So What Are We Doing?
The Elephant in the Room is a video project that uses humor and metaphor to illustrate how people can come together and build a supportive community when a personal health crisis strikes. The video will use animation, narrative and humor to illustrate strategies for asking for and giving help in the face of a life-altering health crisis.

How We Got Started
The project began when communications professional Lori Vidlak journeyed from being a caregiver to a "care- getter." After several years of helping her brother meet the advancing needs of their elderly parents, Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided that leaning exclusively on a few loved ones was not the road she wanted to take, so she applied the same community-based approach she used in her professional life to her own health crisis.

Community and Connection
Because she believes that honest, open communication is the key to success, Lori created a blog where she posted information and updates about her crisis and treatment. Then she invited family and friends to assess their own talents and capacities and offer to help however they felt they were able. As people contacted her she matched her needs with their offers.

Soon a supportive community took shape. Friends and family volunteered to drive her to chemo treatments, give her a place to stay when she visited her doctors in a nearby city, cook meals for her and her husband, walk her dog, clean her house, show her how to give herself shots, and help her decipher medical terminology and 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. And by helping her, they got to know and enjoy the company of others.

Sharing What We Learned
What if this alternative style of care giving and getting could be shared with others experiencing a health crisis? Could it help brighten their lives - and the lives of their family members and friends? From her prior professional experience as a documentary filmmaker, Lori knew that video was the best way to reach the widest group of people. So she enlisted another group of talented, soft-hearted friends and said, "Just keep it short and funny."

The Project Team

Lori Vidlak has written and produced educational communications throughout her career. Four of her documentaries have aired on public television stations across the country. She served as a caregiver for her elderly parents for two years and was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015. Her experiences as a caregiver and a person in crisis were the impetus for these videos that taught her valuable lessons she wished she had learned years ago about how to really help when friends are hurting.

Peg Sheldrick has written national PSAs for the Arbor Day Foundation, industrial films for Smart Chicken, greeting cards for Recycled Paper Products, web courses for the National Guard, fundraising whodunits for Family Service, instructional scripts for educational television, plays for the page and the stage, and too many newspaper articles to count.

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. They join Lori and Peg as both creative and production professionals tasked to take the project from paper to screen.

Help Us Make It Happen

We've already received in-kind donations of $6,000. The money we raise will go toward writing, producing and compensating artist for their work on the project.

The video will be produced in the Fall of 2018 and will be free of charge for anyone to use. Whether you are suffering through a personal health crisis or know someone who is, the  Elephant in the Room  project can show you how to connect with others in a way that can help everyone feel better.

What the Experts Say

“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


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

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