Local News

Monday, Aug 30 2010 06:45 PM

Hospital to replace items stolen from charity

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Four-year-old Rebecca Deeths gets a kiss from her mom, Dr. Christine Deeths, while at Memorial Hospital, where Rebecca was admitted with serious complications related to cystic fibrosis. Deeths is coordinator of the annual Moonlight & Miracles fundraiser and recently thieves broke into her home, stealing about $7,000 in gift cards and certificates.

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BY STEVEN MAYER, Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

Sometimes thieves steal more than material possessions. Sometimes they steal dreams.

Bakersfield family physician Dr. Christine Deeths had been spending a lot of time at Memorial Hospital after her 4-year-old daughter, Rebecca, was admitted last week with serious complications related to cystic fibrosis.

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What: Moonlight & Miracles

When: Sept. 17

Where: Kern County Museum

Why: Raise funding for cystic fibrosis research through the nonprofit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Details: Dinner, silent auction and musical entertainment, featuring country music artist Tammy Cochran. Cochran's first Top-10 single, "Angels in Waiting," was written as a tribute to her two older brothers, both of whom succumbed to cystic fibrosis early in their lives.

How: A variety of corporate and individual sponsorships are available. For information call Christopher Mendoza, director of development, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, at 323-939-0758.

When Deeths dropped by her southwest Bakersfield home on Friday to shower and change after sitting up all night with Rebecca, she realized a stranger had been inside the house.

Just about everything of value was gone.

"My mom died five years ago," Deeths said. "They took all of her jewelry. They took the Wii, cameras, a laptop, a DVD player ..."

When she reached for the phone to call police, her heart sank as she realized something else was missing: about $7,000 in gift cards and gift certificates that were to be auctioned off to raise money for cystic fibrosis research.

Deeths helps organize Moonlight & Miracles, an annual event that raises money to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and its research efforts. But with the loss of the auction items, an important fundraising tool was suddenly lost.

"It's a bad disease. It really is," Deeths said Monday as she stood near Rebecca's hospital bed at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

"We're doing this because we want a cure," she said.

Michael Watkins, an X-ray technician who, along with his three sons, also suffers from cystic fibrosis, said Deeths' knowledge of the genetic disease has changed their lives for the better.

As a family doctor who has stayed on top of the latest developments in research and treatment, Deeths has reduced the number of days that they are sick, Watkins said.

"It really killed me when I found out what happened to her family," he said of the break-in. "It's just unbelievable."

On Monday, when the hospital's Vice President of Strategy and Business Development Gary Frazier learned of the burglary, he decided the hospital needed to act.

"We are going to replace the auction items," he said of the $7,000 loss. "We think it's the right thing to do."

He said he hopes individuals in the community will join the effort by writing a check or attending the Sept. 17 fundraiser at Kern County Museum.

It would send a message of hope to families struggling with cystic fibrosis, he said -- and a message of defiance to those who would rob funding from sick children.

Sometimes, it seems, even stolen dreams can be restored.

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