Fundraiser Promises a Good Time for a Serious Cause

Stephan at left with his siblings Melissa, Michael and Shane.
Stephan at left with his siblings Melissa, Michael and Shane.

By Donna Furey, Special to the Independent

Laguna Beach residents are known for coming out to help their own. A fundraiser planned this Saturday, March 8, for the Chapman family is no exception: it’s a party promising lots of fun for a very serious cause.

The event’s focal point is the eldest child of local residents Michelle and Steven Chapman, 25-year-old Stephan. He was diagnosed Jan. 13 with Burkitt lymphoma, which impairs immunity and is fatal if untreated but responds to chemotherapy, according to

With two of six prescribed in-hospital treatments behind him, Stephan recently developed a viral infection only five days after returning home, which sent him back to the hospital and will result in his absence from the fundraiser, said his mother.

Despite the most recent disappointing setback, his mother says Stephan remains brave though having to give up a new job and a new apartment, and foregoing surfing, skimming and planning to re-start his education.

Even so, Michelle Chapman expressed gratitude for being “blessed” with friends such as Michele Hall, who stepped in to arrange meals for the family through, and for the outpouring of support by the community. The two women with phonetically alike names that differ by a single “L” have been friends for 14 years.

Stephan’s mother says she receives “at least two bills every day” and at this point doesn’t know how much health insurance will cover. A fund has been set up to hold donations, which are covering Stephan’s monthly obligations and providing the family some peace of mind. Stephan has a 19-year-old sister and 16-year-old twin brothers.

Stephan’s mother, a sales representative for a medical device company who formerly worked 14 years as a nurse at Mission Hospital, also is grateful to friends and acquaintances at the Mission Viejo facility who treated her son in the days immediately following the diagnosis of his fast growing cancer. With their help, Stephan was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, known for its comprehensive approach to cancer treatment, his mother said.

Hall tapped a small village to raise a tent for her friend. Her team of Marlene Baker, Lisa Berman, Kira Burgess, Melissa Denoff, and Lisa Schmidt originally slated the fundraiser for last week. Inclement weather and the conflicting Schoolpower gala led to postponement; it’s now scheduled for 3 -7 p.m. at the home of Steven and Rona Gromet, 2250 Park Place.

The event will feature a silent and live auctions as well as a raffle. Up for bid are many goods that reflect their hometown origin: a signed Wyland print, a Michael Hallinan painting, a hockey stick signed by Teemu Selanne, surf lessons from James Pribram, yoga classes at Bikram, a Troy Lee designed bike helmet and a sushi party from Yuji at San Shi Go. La Sirena Grill, Zulu Café, Gina’s Pizza and GG’s Bistro donated food and entertainment will be provided by Laguna Beach musician Ron I and FM radio station KX 93.5.

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