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Haunted house scaring up money to benefit gravely ill Parker grad

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, October 14, 2012

— Growing medical bills prompted Katie Clayton’s family into organizing a haunted house to raise money to pay for them.

Since being diagnosed with a malignant brain stem tumor in March 2011, Katie’s medical bills have climbed to more than $100,000, said her brother Tom Clayton of Janesville.

With only Medicaid to help cover some of the costs, Tom enlisted family and 30 friends to create a haunted house to help to pay for Katie’s continued care.

The tumor has paralyzed the left side of the 24-year-old Parker High School graduate’s body, taken away most of her eyesight and left her bedridden. Three brain surgeries and radiation didn’t help Katie, who has been told by doctors there is nothing more medically that can be done. Hospice care has been set up in her Janesville home, Tom said.

“Recently it has been harder for her to talk. She gets a little emotional but is very happy with me. That makes me feel better knowing she agrees with what I’m doing,” he said.

Tom set a goal to raise between $8,000 to $12,000 so he can give Katie whatever end of life stuff she wants to do, make her as comfortable as possible, and to cover funeral expenses, he said.

More than 300 people have already toured the haunted house; 90 percent of them said they came to help Katie.

“My sister and I spent almost all our lives volunteering for the community and were always major Halloween and haunted house fans.

“She likes children so that’s why we have our children’s matinees Saturdays and Sunday,” he said.

Tom tapped into his years of experience of helping organize the Janesville Jaycees Haunted House, when his mother Cindy Clayton led the organization’s annual event.

He also got several Jaycees chapters, who had a stockpile of haunted house supplies they don’t use any more, to donate them for the effort.

Those who plan to visit the 4,000-square-foot haunted house should expect to see strobe lights, fog machines, experience a vortex tunnel that makes you feel like the bridge is moving when you walk across it, chain saws, a cemetery, black lighting, a couple dozen live haunters, mazes and a hallway of doors.

“It’s creative stuff to make it a very disorienting experience for the customer while scary, spooky music mixed with some rock music plays in the background,’’ Tom said.

Evening shows will be scarier while matinees will be geared to those 10 and younger, he said.

After buying your general admission ticket in the lobby and waiting for your ticket number to be called, you’ll have the opportunity to play video games in the video arcade or buy soda and candy bars in the lobby. Popcorn is free.

There will be no lines for customers to wait outside in the cold or rain, Tom said.

“We’re trying to get the word out to help raise money for my sister.

“If she’s around in years to come, we can continue doing it for her. If not, we’ll have the haunted house in memory of her.’’

Last updated: 4:50 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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