When the Cancer Sucks! concert begins this Saturday night at Cain's Ballroom, it's not just some fly-by-night affair. Now in its sixth year, the concert has grown significantly, building from a few hundred to 700 to nearly 1,000 in attendance last year. With that development, Cancer Sucks! has been able to raise even more money year after year (after year) for cancer research.
When discussing the organization with Rick Horton, he explained that when his mother, Donna Holland White, died of cancer in 1996, she donated her body for research to find a cure. In 1998, Horton and his brother, Frank White founded Cancer Sucks! as a living, active memorial to their mother focused on raising money for cancer research. As Horton explained it to me last week, "This was the best we could do to follow in the example she set for us."
The organization actually started with a T-shirt design and grew into a full-blown non-profit completely run by volunteers. With no paid employees or salaries, all proceeds from Cancer Sucks! events are donated directly to cancer research foundations, and those donations have reached nearly $500,000 since the organization was founded.
Last year's annual concert saw nearly 1,000 in attendance and raised approximately $25,000 for the cause when combining ticket and merchandise sales and the annual silent auction. This year, Horton and Cancer Sucks! hope those numbers continue to grow.
As in past years, all of the bands involved are donating their time and Cain's Ballroom is donating its venue space, making the event as low on overhead costs as possible so more money can go to charitable donations. The only major change in the event this year has been a reduction on the number of bands participating, so each band can play a longer set and keep the audience happy. Instead of shuffling bands on and off in 20-minute increments, each group will be allowed 30- to 40-minute sets before headliner Taddy Porter closes out the night with a full hour of rock and roll.
This year, doors open at 5:30pm and the music starts at 5:45pm when Another Alibi takes the stage. Eric and the Adams continues the evening at 6:25pm, followed by Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers at 7:15pm. Provided everything stays on schedule (and it usually does), Sweatin' Bullets will then play at 8:05pm, followed by Crooked X at 8:55pm and Oklahoma City-based Aranda at 9:45pm before Taddy Porter takes over the stage to close things out at 10:55pm.
As in the past, the concert lineup taps a full spread of Oklahoma talent and this year Aranda and Taddy Porter share co-headlining status as both come off of a busy year that has seen each band touring nationally. This is a special appearance for Taddy Porter during a holiday stop over at home, as the band gets a weekend off after following a spot opening for Slash with a run of smaller club and theater shows with Evans Blue.
As in past years, this event isn't just a concert, however. A silent auction will also be included with items up for bid including a variety of concert tickets and autographed memorabilia.
The item which may get the most bidding attention, however, will likely be a pair of tickets to the Big 12 championship game.
Football fans will want to take note that the much-anticipated OU-OSU game will be broadcast over the big screen in Bob's while the concert goes on in ballroom, so there's no need to avoid the show this weekend -- you can enjoy both in the same location at the same time. Just be ready to bid, however, as the winner of the game will be proceeding to the championship game in Dallas, making those tickets a valuable commodity.
Throughout the course of the evening, Cancer Sucks! will be making check presentations of roughly $30,000 for cancer research in totals of $20,000 to OU and $10,000 to OSU for each school's ongoing research program.
When asked about the group's vision and direction, Horton explained that Cancer Sucks! was never meant to be a standard, uptight operation. Even the original T-shirt and slogan reflected that in the name and catch phrase: "Cancer Sucks! Charity with attitude."
"I think we fill a void in the charity world for people who aren't interested in cake walks or bake sales or black tie events," Horton said. "We reach bikers and rock and rollers: people that want to be charitable, but don't want to dress up or put on phony airs of something they aren't. At our vents, people can be themselves and have a good time."
You don't even need to plan a meal around the evening as Texas Roadhouse will be providing food with all concession sales from their donation being donated as well, so you can rock out, eat and donate to charity all at the same time. Ongoing sponsors KMOD, Myers-Duren Harley Davidson and Tulsa Truck Works will also have a presence, with KMOD vans located outside the ballroom. As Horton pointed out, KMOD has always supported this organization and "we literally wouldn't be where we are today without KMOD's support."
Now in its 12th year, Cancer Sucks! continues to grow and build its presence, not just in Oklahoma, but outside the state as well. Within the past month, the organization was included on the annual "Ship-Rock" Cruise with bands like Tesla, Vince Neil, Drowning Pool and Aranda and raised over $30,000 in a charity auction on the cruise, with those proceeds being donated in honor of Ronnie James Dio, who also died of cancer.
With all of that in mind, remember the Cancer Sucks! concert at Cain's Ballroom this Saturday night, November 27, when planning your holiday weekend. Tickets are only $10 in advance or $15 at the door with all proceeds being donated to "Gateway for Cancer Research", the research program directly associated with our own, locally based Cancer Treatment Centers of America. It's your best way to have a good time and still help others with a concert that has won the ABoT award for "Best Charitable Event" for five years running.
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