Today's Jessfest to help CougarPants drummer Jessica Hughes raise money to battle MS

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Jessica Hughes wasn't too worried about the numbness and tingling in her hands and feet when it first started -- she chalked it up to a case of carpal tunnel. The Cougar Pants drummer figured she could deal with it, and going to the doctor didn't seem feasible without insurance, anyway. But things got worse. "My motor skills started to suffer significantly," she remembers. "It got so bad after a few months I started to drop my drumsticks while playing. I decided to bite the bullet, wait for some insurance to kick in, and go see a doctor."

When that doctor suggested she might have multiple sclerosis, a neurological condition that affects anywhere between 2 and 150 people in every 100,000, "I thought she must be full of it," Hughes recalls. "I reluctantly took her referral to a neurologist... I'm glad I went, because after some MRIs, she told me we needed to start treatment immediately." After several months of seeing no results in her treatment, Hughes opted for a "riskier, more aggressive," not too mention, "expensive" alternative, one that costs about $900 a month, but that she credits with keeping her out of a wheelchair.

When the first bill came, Hughes and her mother were "both quite upset and distraught at the idea of having to pay this every month," she remembers, and Gina Cuomo, Hughes's manager at the Denver FilmCenter where she works, proposed a benefit show to help cover the costs. Hughes was hesitant, but went ahead with the idea with the FilmCenter's help, and the response has been sweeping.

The FilmCenter is hosting Jessfest in its space, and the Denver Film Society is sponsoring it for tax purposes. A silent auction begins at 2 p.m. with items local artists and businesses have donated, a bounty of merch and prizes, followed by a show featuring Cougar Pants and some other acts at 6 p.m. Stop by our Show and Tell blog for a complete rundown of today's events.

"I'm lucky to live in Denver right now, because the community I've become a part of while living here is unique and generous and genuine," says Hughes. "The support I've received for this event is just one of many examples of this."

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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