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Burn Survivors Speak in 'Present Day'

New charity documentary debuts in Hill Country
Richard Whittaker, 5:38pm, Fri. Feb. 1, 2013
Not all local film premieres are in Austin. Tomorrow, if you happen to be out in the Hill Country, stop by the Boerne Community Theatre for Present Day. That's the new fundraising documentary for the Moonlight Fund charity made by local film maker Casey Porter.

The fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit that supports burn survivors and their families. Founded in 1998, it provides information to burns victims, as well as financial and in-kind assistance. Significantly, it also provides emotional support, as their clients undergo the long road to recovery and reconstructing their lives, possessions and careers. Twice a year the group runs retreats at Bridlegate Ranch in Bandera, open to anyone who has suffered a burn injury or suffered an amputation due to a burn or blast injury.

Inevitably, in recent years that's meant the fund has been supporting a lot of veterans. That's a subject dear to Porter's heart: As a former Army engineer, he cut his production teeth while stationed and repeatedly stop-lossed in Kuwait and Iraq. Last year he lensed Your Ride is Here, a fundraising doc about the charity of the same name that provides hospital transport for people undergoing cancer treatment.

Porter first found about the Moonlight Fund through a car-centric Facebook group, Sweet Rides of Central Texas. He said, "They were talking about getting Kindles and iPads for soldiers to use in the hospital." He traveled to San Antonio to see the electronics – a lifeline for rehabbing patients – being delivered. After that, he got to know board member Sgt. Adam Harris and co-founder Celia Belt, a former Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit volunteer who suffered extensive second and third degree burns from a household accident when she was less than two years old. Porter said, "They were planning to do another drop-off, so I filmed that, and then I interviewed some soldiers who had been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The more he looked into the fund, the more impressed he was by what he saw. For anyone that knows Porter, they know that's not an easy job. A pointed critic of many groups providing services for veterans – including the Veterans Administration – Porter said that people need to really know which groups they are giving to really deliver. He said, "Some do a great job, and others do a terrible job."

What excited Porter about the Moonlight Fund is simple. He said, "After talking to them and looking into how they operate, it's done very efficiently. It's not about having fancy offices. … They get results, They bring help to soldiers with no delay at all."

The Moonlight Fund presents Present Day at the Boerne Community Theatre 907 East Blanco Road, Boerne, 5pm, Feb. 2. The screening will be followed by a Q&A. Tickets available via email at www.moonlightfund.org. The full short film will be available online in two weeks, and we'll have the full version then.

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