Article by Jay Michaels
On Thursday July 9, in the early evening, Federica Borlenghi, an actress in several indie theatre companies, suffered severe head trauma during an accident in Mason, Ohio. She hit the top right portion of her head on a concrete bicycle path and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. She was placed on sedatives and a ventilator to keep her airways clear and flown by helicopter to Cincinnati, Ohio to receive additional treatment.
On the morning of July 10, she was taken off the ventilator and has been breathing well on her own since. For the majority of July 10 and July 11 Federica was mostly non-verbal and had difficulty following instructions from hospital staff. She was not eating or drinking until July 12th.
In the hospital she has received a variety of tests including 3 CT-scans and has been monitored for seizures. As of today, July 13, Federica is still in the hospital. She has been issued speech and physical therapy exercises to help combat mental-fog and help her body strengthen.
Her full recovery is of paramount concern; however, the cost of these life-saving services is staggering. As an Italian international on a student visa living within the United States, Federica is not covered by typical insurance plans and must pay for medical bills upfront. This is a daunting task for anyone – especially for a young 24-year-old graduate like Federica (for Italian and international donors: in the U.S. healthcare is mostly privatized and requires patients and families to adopt policies that would help pay for medical expenses. The U.S. does not have holistic public healthcare programs that would aid effected patients).
Her friends – headed by the leaders of Here We Go, Dirty Laundry Theatre, and Rising Star Performance Company – created their own telethon to help their fellow artist pay for the live-saving procedures and other medical needs. The total is almost unimaginable – over $100,000. Absolving this monstrous bill will help Federica continue her dream of directing and producing theater within the United States and assure a bright future unencumbered by medical debt.
When one imagines a fundraiser for such an amount one can hope that there are a few “wealthy” colleagues out there. Or maybe a connection to an affluent source. But these are three off-off Broadway companies – each suffering at this time with all theaters dark until the spring … or maybe fall of 2021. Regardless of their own station, these three intrepid companies banded together its members and created A CELEBRATION OF POSITIVITY- A Fundraiser for Federica Borlenghi’s Recovery.
The vast array of performances ranged from new works, comedic pieces, Broadway musical numbers and so much more. One particular entry was of international performers Chrysi Sylaidi and Gwendolyn Snow doing Randy Newman’s You Got a Friend in Me. Both in Greek and English, the two combined their lovely voices into a sweet uplifting piece. But the layers of this piece don’t stop with language. Edited together (undoubtedly with help from Sylaidi, now an experienced film director as well as performer) with a collage of short videos of children. As just a performance piece you might call it sweet but when you look at it a spart of this event at which all the artists have forgotten their troubles and gave selflessly their time and money and talent to their friend; when you consider the fact that so many of the children in the videos seem instinctually to know how to hug and kiss; considering the song – sweet normally but deeply moving under this situation; and you put together the lovely voices of the two artists – this is a moment to choke back tears and pull out your wallet.
In the end, this cober6t of sorts is a powerful learning lesson. Love is what comes naturally as we see from the children and the artists. Anything else must be taught.
Please donate to this cause and support these companies.