Flowers, chocolates -- maybe a card? They're all perfectly acceptable Valentine's Day gifts, but maybe this year you're looking for a more original way to let that special someone know you care. Fortunately, there's a way to spread the love -- not just with your significant other -- but with people who could really use some TLC. A Valentine's Day benefit concert featuring some of Oklahoma's top talents is celebrating love and life and is making a difference at the same time.
Monday, Feb. 14, The Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center is hosting a Valentine's Day extravaganza of sorts billed as "Grady Nichols and The Valentine Divas." The show is a fundraiser for Oklahomans Families Coping with Cancer, a unique Tulsa-based organization which, as the name suggests, helps families whose lives have been torn apart by the potentially deadly disease.
Justin Zeigler founded OFCC in 2007. For Zeigler, the fight against cancer is a personal one. The disease has claimed several members of his family and had a devastating effect on the lives of several others, including his mother and grandmother, a four-time stage four survivor who's now in remission.
Zeigler said he started OFCC to fill a need he said other organizations simply weren't touching.
"There were a lot of really great cancer-fighting groups out there, but there weren't any that gave immediate help to families," he said. "Raising money to find a cure is great, but there are a lot of people who need help now -- not 20 years from now."
One of those people is Jodie, who at just 7 years old was diagnosed with stage-three leukemia. With no insurance and little money, her parents found themselves in desperate need of a miracle. The fight against Jodie's particular kind of cancer would be a four-year battle with expensive treatments her parents couldn't even come close to affording. In just the first seven weeks of Jodie's treatment, her family racked up a $27,000 medical bill. Oklahoma Families Coping with Cancer paid every cent, and will continue to pay for the remainder of her treatments.
Zeigler says his organization picks up the tag for more than just medical bills. They help families with everyday needs, too -- things like oil changes or groceries -- anything that might help ease the incredible burden of dealing with a devastating disease. OFCC relies on generous donors, and fundraisers like the upcoming Valentine's Day benefit, for the financial means to help families coping with cancer.
Monday's Valentine's Day concert promises to be a night of top-notch entertainment. If you live in or around Tulsa, you're probably familiar with headliner Grady Nichols. The internationally renowned saxophonist specializes in smooth jazz, but his latest CD, Take Me With You, (produced by Nixons frontman Zac Maloy) shows his wide range of influences, including pop, adult contemporary and a dance mix of the album's title track -- a song which also happens to feature Jenny Labow - one of the Valentine Divas from the OCFF benefit.
Labow is an accomplished musician herself who's signed to Wilshire Records. Her Aimee Mann-ish pop rock has been featured in films and on MTV. After a move to Los Angeles (and a stint in a progressive hard-rock act called Exit Strategy, a group that she's described as being "kind of like Tool, only with a female singer"), Labow returned to Tulsa a few years ago and has been delighting local audiences as of late.
Rounding out the Valentine Divas are country crooner Mary Cogan and R&B/jazz/blues vocalist Starr Fisher. Cogan's newest album Bury Me in the Red Clay was produced by Grammy Award winner Lloyd Maines, and includes a song written by Tulsa music icon J.J. Cale. Fisher is a soulful singer who's worked with Earl Clark and Spectrum, the Wallstreet Band and who now fronts her own group called Phase III.
So if you're looking for a special way to show your special someone you care this Valentine's Day, forget the flowers and candy and consider instead enjoying some of Tulsa's top talent while helping a great organization help people facing the challenge of a lifetime.
The doors of the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center open at 7pm for Grady Nichols and the Valentine Divas. Tickets are $26.50 for singles; $44.50 for couples and are available online at ticketstorm.com.
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