Help My Friend Rise From The Ashes

           This fundraiser is for the benefit of Sherry Hilber, a dear friend with whom I shared an extraordinary and oftentimes comical friendship during our adolescent years. Since then we have remained friends. I recently learned that Sherry was badly burned in a house fire that completely destroyed the home and all of its contents.

          I have always known Sherry to be a caring, loving and generous individual. In 1999, after a successful career as a primetime comedy network executive, Sherry put her energies toward creating Rx Laughter to study the connection between humor and good health. Rx Laughter, Inc. is a California Public Benefit Corporation. Its volunteer-based work has helped many children coping with cancer and other painful physical illnesses.

          Rx Laughter conceptualized a research study with the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center and Mattel Children’s Hospital to study the connection between humor and pain tolerance in children ages 8 to 18. Based on this research, Rx Laughter expanded into therapeutic and educational programs using comedy to help alleviate pain, anxiety and stress for adults recovering from serious illness; young adults in recovery from addictions to alcohol, prescription medications and drugs; as well as military families struggling with the effects of PTSD. This Corporation has established partnerships with medical facilities in California and on the East Coast at Boston’s Franciscan Hospital for Children. Rx Laughter has also been added to mental health clinics in Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco. At UCLA’s Pediatric Isolation, ICU and Dialysis units, Sherry established an in-house Rx Laughter comedy channel.

          As you can see, Sherry has devoted all of her time and energy through Rx Laughter to help numerous patients manage through very difficult situations. Extensive research has proven just how powerful the benefits of comedy can be during the healing process. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes more than laughter to help a person overcome tragedy.

          On May 29, 2018 a fire completely engulfed Sherry’s Cambria, California rental home and reduced all of her possessions to ash.* The fire almost ended her life. She sustained extensive burns on her back and legs. Due to the severity of her injuries, the ambulance drove 4 hours from Cambria directly to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles. Although it was a long distance, this decision likely saved Sherry’s life. As soon as they reached the Burn Center, Sherry was operated on. Thereafter, she underwent painful repetitive skin debriding procedures to allow her skin to heal. Skin grafts were required and Sherry remained in the ICU over a long period.

Firefighters battle an early morning fire May 29, 2018, in Cambria's Pine Knolls area. Tim Murdoch Courtesy

Read more here:  

          Subsequent to her release from the hospital, Sherry was transferred to a long-term rehabilitation center, far from home, alone, and away from family. The physical therapists are teaching her how to move and walk again. Her release date will be set shortly, but Sherry has no home to return to and no worldly possessions other than her iPad.

          Sherry will definitely require financial help to rebuild her life, continue her long recovery, and eventually return to her charity work. She is looking forward to completing an Rx Laughter Comedy Camp in Big Sur for adolescents in need of humor during their cancer care.

          Imagine yourself suddenly being homeless. Sherry needs funds to find a place to live and to purchase necessities such as clothes, food, and basic everyday essentials that many of us take for granted until they are gone. I am humbly asking for your help. No donation is too small. Please donate what you can to help someone who has devoted most of her life to helping others.

                To all donors, my sincere and heartfelt thanks for your compassion, Dana VanBell


This fundraiser is not for Rx Laughter. All funds will go directly toward continued care for Sherry Hilber. Per the GoFundMe site, “Donations made to GoFundMe personal campaigns are generally considered to be personal gifts and are not guaranteed to be tax-deductible.
  • Karen Stammer
    • $100 
    • 42 mos
  • Jeffrey Nagler
    • $250 
    • 43 mos
  • Kay Henley
    • $1,000 
    • 43 mos
  • Michele Roth
    • $100 
    • 43 mos
  • Kathy O’Connell
    • $65 
    • 44 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Dana VanBell
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY
Rx Laughter

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.