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‘I never expected to see so much outpouring of love and generosity from so many people’

There was standing room only at Bethel AME Church where over 250 people turned out to support a fundraising production by a 15-year-old daughter to help her mother.

Chontelle Lee, staged her very first production, “Half A Merry Christmas — Christmas Miracles” on Sunday night.

Described as a labour of love, the proceeds raised will be used to help her mother Francine Lee pay off mounting debts while struggling with lymphedema.

Ms Lee was diagnosed with the incurable medical condition five years ago. Her debts began to rise when she was made redundant three years ago.

With lymphedema, her body is unable to filter harmful substances through the lymph nodes out of her bloodstream, which leads to severe swelling and infections.

No longer on a group health insurance plan, she incurred hospital bills for Emergency Ward and Wound Centre treatment during flare ups.

After months of hard work, Chontelle said her efforts to raise funds paid off.

“I didn't think it would blow up that big but when it did I was really surprised. I was so busy with the show I had no idea more than 250 people came to see it.

“I think this will encourage me to work on another production again,” she said.

Her mother was overwhelmed by the response and support.

“I'm extremely proud of Chontelle especially because she's only 15-years-old and she decided to do all of this to help me out.

“She didn't have to, which shows me she's a compassionate child and I've learned a lot from this experience,” said Ms Lee.

“Many times she would go off on her own when she's upset about my illness; she's very protective. I try to tell her she doesn't have to go through it alone; I'm her mother and I'm there for her no matter what.

“But to see her do all of this for me in this way I'm totally and completely grateful.

“I never expected to see so much outpouring of love and generosity from so many people, some I don't even know.

“And I was told that a lot of people stopped by to make a donation who didn't stay for the show; they just wanted to help.”

Despite the hard times she said: “Bermuda is still filled with a lot of loving, generous, kind-hearted people.”

Unable to say just how much was raised because funds are still coming, she was pleased to note that she will be able to pay off a quarter of her bills.

“I've always been the one to help others, now some of that help is coming back. I never give to get, but now that I'm in this situation every little bit helps,” said Ms Lee.

Her longtime friend Malinda Jennings, said: “We were all just a puddle of tears to see such a real production from a Bermuda youth standpoint.

“The stories told all led to the journey back to God,” she said.

“Chontelle did an excellent job and it was great for her mom to see all the work that her daughter put into this.”

At the end of the show the members of the audience were asked to express their views.

Said Ms Lee: “To hear so many people speak so well of my first born child brought me to tears again.

“That touched me because I'm not with her 24/7, I've been sick and not always able to be the type of mother that I want to be,” she said.

Church Paster Lorne Bean said he was impressed by the wealth of young talent.

“The turnout was tremendous which speaks to the fact that Bermudians are a caring people; hard times brings that out more.

“It was a good show and we have a good future with all the talent we see here in Bermuda today.

“We can all see it even more if we give our young people the opportunity, which is what we try to do here at Bethel AME.”

For more information or to make a donation, e-mail bethelame@northrock.bm or call 293-0605.

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Published August 27, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 27, 2013 at 1:10 am)

‘I never expected to see so much outpouring of love and generosity from so many people’

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