Last November, just a few weeks after she found out she was pregnant with her son, Melonie Parker was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Parker and her family, made up of newborn Jayden, two-year-old daughter Macy and husband Jeff, fought the disease for the first six months with a minimal amount of financial aid from family members and friends.
As a Houston native, the idea of a benefit to raise money for her rising medical expenses was foreign to Parker.
“A benefit is just something you are lucky to have in a community (like Stephenville),” Parker said. “I had never experienced anything like that.”
Parker attended her first benefit several months back for another Erath County family in need, the Gains, who had a five-year-old daughter Mikayla suffering from Alper’s Disease.
When Parker’s sister-in-law, Shelley Gilliland, suggested family and friends host a benefit for her, she was hesitant.
“I told her to hold off until we couldn’t do this anymore,” Parker said. “At the time we (my husband and I) thought we were good to go. When everything changed, I told them we weren’t making it anymore.”
And when Parker says “everything changed,” she means everything.
Not only did the family’s insurance plan require them to meet another $10,000 deductible in January, just two months after meeting it for the first time, they also lost their insurance at Jeff’s job altogether.
“My husband’s company quit carrying insurance two weeks after my son was born,” Parker said.
Thankfully, Parker was able to sign on with a high-risk insurance company, but the monthly maintenance and new deductible took an even bigger toll on the family’s pocketbook.
Gilliland said an additional weight was placed on the family’s finances when Melonie’s medical bills began rolling in.
“They are on a waiting period until they can get on (Jeff’s new) insurance, but until that time (Melonie) is on the other insurance and it is extremely expensive,” Gilliland said. “Now they’ve also got medical expenses rolling in left and right and they are just piling up.”
So Gilliland, along with dozens of family members and friends, stepped up to the plate to put together a benefit for the Parkers.
“It’s a collective effort between family and friends” Gilliland said. “We have pulled a lot of strings and asked a lot of favors.”
On Saturday, Courtney Patton will kick off the benefit by pickin’ for the Parkers. A barbecue dinner, for the cost of a donation, and silent and live auctions will also be held.
The event, which kicks of at 6;30 p.m. with the silent auction, will be held at Melody Mountain Ranch, 1390 PR 707 in Stephenville. The live auction is slated for 7:30 p.m. and items include a Sam Roberts handbag, a 32-inch flat screen television, a four-person dove hunt and a handmade quilt by Linda Henderson.