Park City has a certain elan, an upscale air about it, a jet-set feel. After all, you might bump into part-time residents Johnny Carson, Kate Jackson or Robert Urich browsing in boutiques or art galleries.
But Park City also has heart - a lot of heart.Last June the whole town turned out to raise money for a well-loved young man who was stricken with cancer. A fund-raiser for Tom Wright gathered a princely sum to defray therapy costs and travel expenses to the Falk Oncology Center in Canada, where he was receiving special treatment.
Wright died just a few weeks after the fund-raising event - but he lived long enough to share $5,000 of his cancer fund with Debbie Richter-Elrick. Richter-Elrick, like Wright, was misdiagnosed before her Hodgkin's disease was discovered last December. Her extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments make complete recovery or long-term remission likely. Her medical bills, however, are seemingly "terminal."
Richter-Elrick changed insurance companies while her diagnosis was uncertain and found herself with no insurance at all because her condition was "pre-existing." Her friends say her medical bills are simply astronomical.
Continuing in the spirit Tom Wright exhibited with his donation to Richter-Elrick, the former mining community is looking to the very ground that silver once came from to raise money for her. The Park City Board of Realtors earmarked receipts from the Luxury Home Tour held Aug. 8, amounting to several thousand dollars, to the Richter fund. Individual Realtors are donating a portion of commissions from sales of properties designated a "Richter Scale Listing." And on Aug. 15 Wardley Better Homes and Gardens sponsored "The Great American Yard Sale" and donated proceeds to the the fund.
Appraisers and mortgage companies are also donating a share of their proceeds to the fund.
The series of fund-raising events will be capped Saturday, Sept. 5, at Park City High School with a Walkathon and the Richter Olympics, a family day of games and fun. There will be games like the carrot relay, water volleyball, the water launch and musical chairs en masse. A barbecue and silent auction will follow the games.
The Richter Scale Committee is hoping to raise $35,000 - or more. Funds in excess of that amount will become seed money for the Friend Foundation, which will be a permanent source of funding for needy individuals in Summit and Wasatch counties.
"I'm overwhelmed by the support of the community. From individuals offering me spiritual advice to this enormous fund raising effort - it never ceases to amaze me how incredible this community is at pitching in to help those in need," said Richter-Elrick.