Community plans benefits for Langley resident Keith Holt

Once again, the force of the Whidbey community is stepping up to help one of its own. Keith Holt of Langley has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a group of diseases that affect the bone marrow and blood. Holt is scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center on Thursday, July 17.

Shevaun Wright and Keith Holt gather together after one of Wright’s performances with the belly dancers “Troupe Hipnotica.”

Once again, the force of the Whidbey community is stepping up to help one of its own.

Keith Holt of Langley has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a group of diseases that affect the bone marrow and blood.

Holt is scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center on Thursday, July 17.

Since his diagnosis six years ago, Holt had been doing fairly well. But recently, he became unresponsive to milder treatment and was forced to start a strict regiment of chemotherapy treatments and then have the transplant.

Holt’s wife, Shevaun Wright, is a local hair stylist. When some of her customers found out Wright would have to put her business on hold to drive her husband back and forth to treatments in Seattle, they rallied to help.

“We all just love her,” said Chris Crotty, one of Wright’s regulars.

“To cut out both of their incomes completely is pretty serious,” Crotty added.

Holt, too, had to put his job as a quality assurance manager on hold while undergoing treatment.

Wright said although she is preoccupied with concentrating on helping Holt get through each day and dealing with his treatments, her thoughts of gratitude are with her island clients.

“I have a big, giant heart of thanks for what everybody is doing,” she said.

Holt will have to spend about four weeks in the hospital after the transplant, which Wright said will be hard for them since they miss their island home very much.

“He’s generally a happy guy and usually nothing phases him,” Wright said of her husband.

“I’m the worrier and he has always said, ‘Worry is interest on trouble you don’t have yet.’ I just try to remember that now,” she added.

Friends and clients of Wright have organized two events to help defray the daunting medical costs facing the Langley couple.

The first is an evening of music and dance from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 18 at Mukilteo Coffee on Crawford Road in Langley.

The event will include a silent auction, musical entertainment by SisterMonk Harem and a belly dancing performance by “Troupe Hipnotica,” with whom Wright dances.

Mukilteo Coffee has donated the space and staff for the benefit and will be serving their regular menu of food and beverages.

A silent auction, hosted by Sue Frause, will take place during the evening with items donated by a variety of island artists, businesses and friends.

There will be more than 60 items ranging from the “sublime to the ridiculous.” Items include a pedicure party, dinner certificates to Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill and the Inn at Langley, overnight stays at a Mount Bachelor cabin, the Boatyard Inn and Drakes Landing, stained glass by Melissa Hawley, oriental rugs, custom jewelry and two hours with a tattoo artist.

A donation of $10 or more for admission to the evening benefit would be greatly appreciated.

A second fundraiser will also be held this week. The hair stylists of South Whidbey will be holding a “Cut-A-Thon” on Sunday, July 20 at their respective salons.

Stylists from Rumours Salon in Clinton, Urban Roots in Clinton and The Color Box in Freeland will all be pitching in to style hair for the cause.

The staff from Island Girl Nails in Clinton will also be donating proceeds from pedicures done that day.

Clients need to schedule appointments in advance with stylists or cosmetologists at participating salons for services that benefit the Holt fund.

Crotty said that it’s a very sad reason for people to have to pull together, but that the group who has come together has clicked.

“We’re just trying to help Shevaun out as much as we can; to pay it forward,” Crotty said. “And there hasn’t been one person who has said no yet.”

Monetary donations are also being accepted at Whidbey Island Bank in Langley, in the name of “Keith Holt Benefit Fund.”

For more information on the fundraising events or on other ways to help, call Crotty at 221-1726.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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