It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the impact of the devastating blows Cheri Wyman absorbed in September 2002. First, her husband John, a sales manager at KEZW Denver, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. Two days later, Cheri was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But beyond the emotional and psychological challenges of burying her husband and facing a debilitating disease while raising two teenagers was the very practical matter of finding the $1,400 a month to pay for the medicine that could help prevent the MS from progressing.
“I didn't know where to turn, but someone at the station told me about the Broadcasters' Foundation,” Wyman says. The foundation came to her assistance immediately. “If it were not for them, I could not afford the medication,” she says. “They have been a godsend.”
The mission of the Broadcasters' Foundation is to provide financial assistance to those in the industry (or their immediate family) who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in acute financial need, says President Gordon Hastings. Wyman is getting $1,000 a month, and Hastings says that will continue as long as she needs the help.
CALAMITIES AREN'T SCHEDULED
The foundation currently helps 28 individuals or families on a monthly basis, along with providing grants on a one-time basis. “That's a big caseload,” Hastings says, adding, “What is so important for people to understand is that I have no idea how many new requests will be on my desk each afternoon.”
The organization, which relies on members and state broadcaster associations to provide referrals, pays for these grants out of current income raised at events like the Golden Mike Awards gala. It has an endowment of just under $1.5 million, but Hastings wants to build that up to cope with the swell of baby boomers who will need a helping hand in the future.
In the present, those getting the help can't sing the foundation's praises loud enough. Wyman says gratefully, “I could not have gotten through this without them.”