Santa Claus is going to make another early visit to Tooele County this Friday for a special family in need.
That’s when he’ll deliver gifts and donations to the Casey and Alicia Walter family that have come in from generous readers for the 41st annual Transcript Bulletin Benefit Fund.
The Walters, and their two children, Hayden and Zoey, are like so many young families across America who struggle with debt caused by an unexpected medical emergency. In this case, it was the premature birth of Zoey in Oct. 2015. She was born 10 weeks early and with Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
Zoey was severely undersized and underweight at 1 pound, 8 ounces at birth. Today, she weighs 20 pounds, 6 ounces. She turned three last October. Zoey is healthy, according to her parents, but she wears clothes of a child less than 24-months old.
Although her parents’ health insurance paid for most of the $300,000 bill, Casey, 30, and Alicia, 29, are doing their best to pay down on a combined $35,000 medical debt from Zoey’s dramatic birth and 89-day stay at University Medical Center’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Salt Lake City. Casey’s earnings are garnished monthly to make the payments.
A front-page story in the Dec. 11 edition announced the Walters as this year’s chosen recipient of the benefit fund and explained Zoey’s traumatic birth. Another front-page story on Dec. 13 explained what Zoey and her brother, Hayden, would like for Christmas and the family’s struggles with medical debt related to Zoey’s birth and care.
Held every Christmas since 1977, the benefit fund helps either an individual or family faced with a unique need or hardship. Individuals or families are nominated by readers and selected by the newspaper. Readers, businesses and organizations then donate cash or make other contributions. All received proceeds are presented to the individual or family on or before Christmas.
Gifts, money and other donations for the family can be dropped off at the Transcript Bulletin’s business office at 58 N. Main St., Tooele by Dec. 21. They can also be mailed to: Transcript Bulletin Benefit Fund, P.O. Box 390, Tooele, Utah 84074 or made online at gofundme.com/transcript-bulletin-benefit-fund.