The Problem
When a personal health crisis strikes, it can be overwhelming for both the patient AND the primary caregiver. Unwilling to “burden” family and friends, they often draw inward, trying to shoulder everything themselves. On the flip side, family and friends struggle with how they can help without being intrusive, respecting the privacy of their loved one while still providing support.

The Project
We are creating a short, upbeat video fable that uses memorable animal characters to tell a very human story. Through the video, we'll demonstrate how friends and family members can effectively collaborate in the caregiving process, relieving stress on both the patient and primary caregiver, and offering rewarding outcomes for everyone involved. We'll use simple animation and gentle humor to illustrate how to ask for needed help, and how to give valuable assistance, when a health crisis strikes.

Production began in Winter of 2019. To view the script narrative, click here. When complete, the video will be posted online and will be free for anyone to use. We are currently seeking partnerships with a variety of local and national caregiving organizations for promotion and distribution, assuring that it reaches the widest possible audience.

After several years of helping her brother meet the growing health needs of their elderly parents, Lori Vidlak was diagnosed with breast cancer. Determined not to rely exclusively on her husband for care, she started writing a blog to communicate with friends and family members about her condition and treatment. As people responded with concern and expressed the desire to help, she invited them to assess their talents and capacities and then matched their offers with her specific needs.

Soon a supportive community took shape. Friends and family drove her to medical appointments and chemo treatments where they helped lift her spirits and decipher the jargon, gave her a place to stay when she visited her doctors in a nearby city, cooked meals, cleaned house, showed her how to give herself shots, and helped her to implement treatment recommendations. To her delight she found that they didn't see these tasks as burdens, they saw them as gifts. It made them feel useful and needed.

This group approach to caregiving is not new. There is a strong body of evidence-informed research to support the “shared caregiving” concept, as well as many organizations and support groups advancing the model across the country. As she talked to the experts, they assured her that a media project like this one would be valuable discussion tool to encourage more people to participate in this group caretaking approach and to connect them with the resources they need to be successful.

What the Experts Say

"The Elephant in the Room opens the door to a dialogue on one of the biggest hurdles for anyone facing a health or medical issue or struggling with the challenges of aging––the reluctance to ask for or to accept support. This video addresses the subject in a charming, non-threatening way. Allowing friends, relatives and neighbors to lighten the load can be like “turning on a light in their hearts” as they offer comfort and support that dissolves the isolation and stresses so many patients and caregivers face."
-Sheila Warnock, Founder & CEO ShareTheCaregiving Inc.
Co-author, Share The Care

"As both a caregiver for my mother and an Executive Director of a nonprofit agency that assists caregivers, Taming the Elephant is an important resource that will open up an absolutely vital discussion. Asking for help is never easy. Too many caregivers have an 'I can do it myself' or 'I should be able to do it myself' attitude. However, being a caregiver is one area of life where no one should walk alone. I can't wait until this video becomes available and our agency can show it when we make presentations to caregiving groups or really to any group of adults. What a terrific conversation starter and eye-opener."
-Lynette Whiteman, MS
Executive Director - Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey

"The Elephant in the Room video will be a valuable resource for patients and families. Asking for help is hard and our egos often get in the way at a time when family and friends want to help. This information will show the power of support and confirm that patients and caregivers are in control and in charge during a time when life feels out of control. I hope that you will support this great project!"
 - Cindy Calhoun, BSW CSW

"The Elephant in the Room is a much needed resource for caregivers and caregetters. Even having been a Social Worker for 25 years, it can often be hard to know how to best offer assistance to a friend or family member during a health crisis. This project helps to bridge that gap and make the information accessible to all who can benefit from it."
- Stephanie Sass, Breast Cancer Patient Advocate

The Production Team

Lori Vidlak has developed educational communications for over 40 years with a special focus on the promotion of strong families and healthy communities. She wrote and produced four documentaries that aired on public television stations across the country, including one about grandparents raising grandchildren.

Peg Sheldrick has written comedies, dramas, and whodunits, along with scripts for web courses, educational programs, documentaries, public service announcements, fundraisers, and more.

Erin Butcher, the project illustrator, is a visual artist working in watercolor, acrylic, and pen and ink. View more of her work at or on her instagram @erinjbutcher.

Dorothy Booraem and Chad Haufschild have been making commercials, features, long form video and short films for over ten years. They sharpened their skills as producers at Time Warner Cable Advertising in Lincoln, NE, before opening Third Rail Content, Inc. in the summer of 2013.

How to Support the Project

The Elephant in the Room is being funded through private donations.  Click here for the production budget.  Contributions are tax-deductible through our non-profit fiscal sponsor, Nebraska Independent Film Projects (NIFP). Contributions can be made through PayPal by clicking here, or by sending a check to:

1916 Sumner St.
Lincoln, NE 68502

Please make the check out to Nebraska Independent Film Projects and write "Elephant" in the memo.

Donors will receive a confirmation letter as proof of the tax deduction from NIFP, and we will will keep all donors posted about the project with monthly email updates.

Giving Reward Levels

And Donor Gifts

$20 – Helpful Soul - A special mention in the video credits
$50 – Rock Star – The above PLUS a Thank You email from the Elephant
$100 – Power Rock – All of the above PLUS a special invitation to an online screening of the video
$250 – Precious Jewel – All of the above plus a limited edition, hand-forged iron elephant wall-hook (pictured here), signed by artisan blacksmith Jim Vidlak (Lori’s husband)
$500 – Rare Gem – All of the above, plus a framed character sketch from the video, signed Erin Butcher


Donate Now!


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Write a Check!

Make your check payable to "NIFP".
Write "Elephant" in the memo line.

Send it to:
1916 Sumner St.
Lincoln, NE 68502