Sacramento comedy fundraiser to help veteran's baby girl

02/21/2012 12:00 AM

02/21/2012 4:15 PM

Expect hugs between the punch lines and a huge outpouring of love.

A comedy club seems like an unlikely venue to help a baby with serious health problems. But the efforts of one family and one evening can grow into much more than a few chuckles. It's humor for a cause.

Laughs Unlimited will host a benefit Sunday for Harlow Crisamore and Hope 4 Harlow, a nonprofit fund set up to provide medical equipment for an 11-month-old girl born with cerebral palsy. Blind and epileptic, the baby needs special care.

Harlow is the daughter of Iraq war veteran Sgt. James Crisamore, who was featured along with his family Dec. 26 in The Bee.

Crisamore, who was severely injured while on duty overseas, has campaigned relentlessly for his infant daughter's health needs while trying to cope with his own recovery from a Humvee rollover accident that smashed both hips.

"He's a wounded warrior," said Skip Cappawana, co-owner of Laughs Unlimited. "Coming back in the shape he's in, he's had his own issues to deal with. Then, he's got a baby with all these major health problems. He's got to know the whole community is behind him and his whole family."

Since the Christmas story in The Bee, Harlow has been in and out of the hospital, Crisamore said. "She was in ICU for 10 days. It's been an ordeal, but she's home now."

The family has had reasons for optimism. After a four-month wait, Harlow finally got a specialized wheelchair designed for babies with her needs. Hearing of their ordeal, several people – including Cappawana – have stepped forward to help Harlow.

Crisamore acknowledged that it can be frustrating, especially dealing with endless red tape, but he's becoming a master of negotiating the health care system, he said. His next goal is to get other equipment to help Harlow learn and develop.

The 28-year-old father said he hopes that the comedy show in Harlow's honor can become a semi-annual event.

"Laughs Unlimited is a very generous organization," he said. "They're giving us the floor and sponsoring Harlow for the fundraiser. They're doing a wonderful thing for the community."

Sunday's event starts with a live band playing classic rock from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Cappawana said. The afternoon will be family-oriented. The comedy show – which is open to ages 17 and up – starts at 7 p.m.

Cappawana, a 26-year Navy veteran, said he was glad to help. "We're doing everything we can. We plan to donate the whole (proceeds). The comedians, the band are all donating their time. We're only asking $10, or whatever people want to donate. It's going to be a great show."

Crisamore was so inspired by the outpouring of concern for Harlow that he and his wife, Rachael, want to help other families facing the same daunting obstacles while dealing with health care bureaucracy.

"We're starting a nonprofit for children in Harlow's situation," Crisamore said. "We're working with Easter Seals and other local organizations. I'm hopeful that someday we'll be able to outdo other organizations in how much we can help families and children like Harlow."

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