While most 18-year-old women worry about school, dating and the latest trends, one particular woman wonders about the next time she’ll be able to run and eat her favorite foods again.
A benefit concert will be held Monday night for Haley Stonehocker, a young woman who is battling two rare diseases. The free event will take place at Studio 600 at 7:15 p.m. Four local bands will perform at the concert and paintings by local artists will be auctioned off, in addition to various raffles and giveaways.
Stonehocker, an 18-year-old from Mapleton, was once a lively runner who qualified for the state track finals at Maple Mountain High School. But she has been sick since January, afflicted with two diseases: gastroparesis and POTS.
Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach becomes paralyzed and struggles to digest food and remove waste. It normally takes a person 45 minutes to an hour to digest food, but in Haley’s stomach it takes about seven and a half hours. POTS is a disease in which one’s heart rate and blood pressure becomes incredibly difficult to control. If Stonehocker goes from lying down to sitting up, her heart rate will go from 30 beats per minute to 120 in only four seconds. These two conditions leave her confined to a bed. The Stonehocker family is not exactly sure what caused these diseases, and as of now there is no cure.
“Haley suffers with pain 100 percent of the time, but she’s not depressed, her spirit’s not broken,” said her mother, Cynthia Stonehocker. “We’re so grateful for the love and support from the people in the community. We’ve been humbled by this experience and are just trying to find out how to help her.”
Jelina Powell, a sophomore at UVU, wanted to do more for the community, so she started “BE. the. CHANGE.,” a Facebook group for those who want to get more involved by helping those in need in the community. After hearing about Stonehocker’s condition, she immediately decided to help and enlisted her friends in various local bands to help put together the benefit concert.
“These bands are very eager to help and were really touched by Haley’s story,” Powell said. “They’re not getting anything out of it for themselves; they really just want to make a difference in her life.”
The concert will feature the local talent of Baldwin Games, J.Wride, Rachel Ann and So Resilient. Kenny Baldwin, a member of Baldwin Games, said this concert is a way to help ease the medical costs of Stonehocker’s family and raise awareness of the diseases.
“Haley has to take a lot of medication and they’re very expensive and out-of-pocket for the family,” Baldwin said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to help and hope to raise enough money to ease some of the burden.”
Proceeds from the concert will all be donated to Stonehocker and her family. The money will help with rising medical costs, but another purpose of the benefit, the Stonehockers said, is to raise awareness about these diseases, so more people will want to conduct research on them. Haley said she has been able to reach out to people with her same condition online, and wants people to know more about it so there will be more research.
“Since I’ve been sick, my main goal was to spread awareness,” she said. “This benefit means so much to me, because I feel like I can make a difference for others suffering with this illness through this benefit. This has inspired me, and someday, I am going to do this for someone else who is struggling.”