Monday, February 18, 2013

Fight Like a Girl

About six years ago, Carla Young got the phone call that nobody wants to get...

"The tests came back, and you have cancer."

As Carla explained, "I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had already metastasized to my bones. I was devastated to say the least. After calling my parents to break the news, the next thing I knew I had to do was go to theatre downtown. We were in the middle of rehearsals after all, and I couldn't just not show up. Plus they were my second family. I needed their support. To me, theatre is not only a place to watch people perform but also a place to let you forget about your troubles if only for a few hours. During the next few years, I came to realize it was also a place of healing. No matter how bad I was feeling, it would magically disappear the second I walked into the theatre."

Denna Beena of Pink Hair Productions suggested I go to Theatre Downtown, (2113 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida ), to sketch the fundraiser for Carla's medical bills. The fundraiser was a musical cabaret featuring songs from shows Carla had stage managed such as "Annie", "The Wiz", "Chicago", "Altar Boyz" and "Avenue Q" along with some of her favorite shows such as "Wicked", "Seussical The Musical", and "Rent".

I got to Theatre Downtown about an hour late since I was working a late shift at Full Sail. Everyone was in the spacious lobby area relaxing on couches and mingling. I found Denna and she let me know that the second half of the show would be in the theatre itself. I went in and found a seat close to the piano and I started sketching the empty stage. I heard a raffle going on in the lobby and then the young actors started getting themselves seated. It turned out I was seated where the singers sat before they went up to the mic. I felt self conscious, but I couldn't stop the sketch now. An actress leaned over and told me she appreciated my work and I relaxed. Staci Stout, who was seated right next to me, got up and sang "Don't Rain On My Parade." Many of the performers were teens yet they belted out the songs like pros. The entire Company rose and began singing "Seasons of Love" from Rent. They asked Carla to stand and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The room radiated love.

Carla Young Continues to fight for her life with the support of family, friends and a loving theater community. You can follow Carla's progress on the Fight Like a Girl page. Should you want to help, go to Carla's fundraising site where to date, $5,606 has been raised towards the $20,000 goal. Even as her medical bills escalate, Carla dreams of paying it forward. If the goal amount is reached, she will donate $2000 of that to Compassionate Hands and Hearts which is a local organization designed specifically to help breast cancer patients and their families.  They helped her a while back, and she would love to be able to help somebody else in need.

P.S. On April  13th, I heard that Carla Young passed away.
"The world is a slightly lesser place tonight. R.I.P. Carla Young. You were truly one of the most beautiful people I have ever met, inside and out. The mark you made on so many lives will never be forgotten." - Paul Castaneda

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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