TRAVERSE CITY — It took just four hours for more than 400 donors to shell out about $10,000 to benefit a Traverse City musician and music teacher who is battling illness and medical bills.
Charlie Lakritz, organizer of "Jammin' Down for David Chown," said he expected a Sept. 14 fundraiser to pull in a few thousand dollars for his friend Chown, who has struggled to pay medical bills since being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"My feelings are, we need to help each other. Traverse City is a small town," Lakritz said. "I've been here since 2004 and it's not only become my home, it's become my family."
Chown recently underwent an expensive surgery to remove his cancer, but soon after faced a double-whammy: bills left by his high-deductible insurance and being unable to work.
"He was out of work for a month," Lakritz said of Chown, who has two children, a wife and bills. "They had insurance, but insurance doesn't pay for lost wages."
Lakritz and a group of Chown's other musician friends got together to organize a fundraiser last weekend after they realized the financial burden that confronts him.
The result was an event at the Holiday Inn that drew 28 performers, all of whom took the stage to entertain between 400 and 500 donors who turned out to help pay Chown's bills.
Lakritz is well aware of the financial burden imposed by health woes -- he's undergone surgery on four occasions -- and jumped at the opportunity to help Chown.
"If it wasn't for friends and family, I'd be living under a bridge over on the Boardman," he said.
Chown, 54, is well known for his willingness to perform at fundraising events for free, Lakritz said.
"If I have a date open on my calendar, I'm there," Chown said. "How do you say 'no'?"