Who is Babz Chula?

by Patricia Cullen on November 3, 2008

Originally published in the Vancouver Actor’s Guide April 2008 newsletter.

Most of you by now, have met, worked with or heard of Babz Chula. Hopefully many of you have heard about the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society and maybe even donated some of your hard earned cash tohelping save her quality of life, if not her life itself. For those of you who have not yet met her, this article is intended for you. And it was originally intended to be a one-on-one with the Babz herself. But as one can imagine, she’s a bit busy putting up the fight of her life, for her life, with naturopathic, chemo & Ukrain treatments.

But there’s more than one way to get to know a woman. Through her friends. And Babz has many. Many amazing, selfless, generous friends who have come together to support her in reaching two goals. One, to live. And two, to leave behind a legacy.

I intended to weave the responses I received from Ben Ratner, Bruce Ramsay, Suleka Mathew and Nick Lea into a story — A story about people coming together, creating something positive out of something bleak, the overcoming of obstacles, creating community around a cause, around Babz — until I read their replies, as their words speak for themselves.

How did you come to know Babz?

Ben: Everyone knows Babz.  She’s one of those people who even if you’ve never met her, as soon as you do it feels like you already know her.  She’s like a kid walking up to you on the playground saying, “Hi, I’m Babz, wanna play?”  Then before recess is over she’s your new best friend.

Bruce: Love. I love Babz dearly. I’ve not known her long but have of course always seen the beauty in her. She’s the type of person who attracts others to her. I met her through Ben and I don’t even know when.

Suleka: Honestly, can’t remember. She’s one of those people if you talk to for awhile, you feel like you’ve known her your whole life.

Nick: I met Babz on a movie we did together in the late 1900’s called The Raffle. She was supportive and funny as hell.

How did you come to create/become a member of the society?

Ben: Babz has a very capable, loving husband and a supportive family, but raising the kind of funds necessary to cover her treatment is a major undertaking, and takes a whole crew.   Getting started was very easy.

Suleka: As we are all her friends, we ended up getting together to discuss ideas, and within weeks, boom, the society was born.

Nick: I became a member of this society because I had to. I HAD to help. She deserves all the love and support that comes her way. We started the Society knowing that we could make a difference in Babz’s journey by trading on something that we were in contact with- recognizable people within the industry that we knew would lend a helping hand.

Bruce: Nick called me up and told me some people were getting together to help Babz. And I said, without pause. In.

Ben: The challenge now is keeping things running smoothly and professionally, so the dough can keep coming in, and everyone who contributes has a good time doing so.  Although most of us don’t have experience with running charitable organizations, we reached out to experienced people and they guided us through every step.  At our second meeting I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I came back three minutes later I was told they had voted me in as President of The Babz Chula Lifeline For Artists Society.  It’s a great honour to have my friends’ trust me enough to have me represent us and what we’re doing. Nick Lea was made Vice President, but he insists on being referred to as “Mr. Senior Vice President.”

What are you aiming to accomplish in the short term? Long term?

Nick: We are trying, firstly, to accumulate enough funds to cover Babz’s VERY expensive treatment costs. Because her specific treatment is not covered by BC Med, she is essentially left to her own devices to pay for it. Medical will only pay for Chemotherapy.

Ben: Long term — all of us like the idea of this organization being on-going, something that can aide other artists who find themselves in serious medical crisis with nowhere to turn.  But first, we have to focus on financing Babz healing process, and that alone is a huge challenge. Babz wants this to be her legacy, and we’re all determined to see that happen.

What kind of response have you received so far? From those offering auction items to those bidding, donating and visiting the site, sharing their stories?

Ben: Overwhelming. Inspiring. Uplifting.

Suleka: We’ve spent so much time in the past few months working out details of the auction, the website, the release to the press, I must admit, we had no idea of the huge wave of offers that came from all around the community of different fundraising ideas. So as we marvel about this generosity, we are starting to look at these new ideas and figure out how best to incorporate them.

Ben: Just read the message board and you can see how much one person’s journey can effect others’ lives and give them hope.  Most of the stuff on the site has bids already, and the whole community has come forward offering their time, their wares, and their talents.

If you had to choose only one moment/memory of/with Babz to define your love for and friendship with her, what would that moment be?

Ben: It’s her laugh.  She’s got a giggle that’s equal parts mischievous little girl, hippy stoner, and wise old lady. The thought of a world without that laugh is something it’s way too soon to imagine.

Suleka: I had the privilege of dressing her in her sari for her very beautiful wedding to darling Larry. Having those couple hours with her, talking, laughing and being quiet with her while negotiating five yards of cream silk around her on a truly significant day felt like a high honor.

Nick: When I see Babz at our dining room table during our strategy meetings for the Society, she is burned out and beat down not only by the burden of her disease but by the energy that she is robbed of her during her treatments and she still makes me laugh my ass off.

Check out www.babzchulasociety.org to find out more about Babz, her fight, her friends, the online, the donations, the blog, the facebook…

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