This fall, the country music community will come together once again in support of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through a series of musical events to benefit the Country Women Cancer Fund. The fund, organized by Jimmy Fund community fundraiser Jay DellIsola, raised over $17,000 in just two years to support Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, a cause close to Jay’s heart. Much of the fundraising was done during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have all lost loved ones to this disease, and we decided to use our musical talents to give back,” says Jay, drummer for Samantha Rae Whiskey-6, one of the bands performing at the Sept. 10 Local Country Comes Together show in Saugus, Mass., and at Local Country Comes Together: Nashville in Nashville, Tenn. on Oct. 15 and 16. Jay is also organizing a livestream event this December to raise further funds. Local Country Comes Together: A Tribute to Abbey Road Studios and the Beatles, on Dec. 18, will feature 16 native New England country artists interpreting their favorite Beatles songs, while also providing highlights on of all the Country Women Cancer Fund’s fundraising efforts this year.
Jay was inspired to give back to Dana-Farber after his father, Tony, died from lung cancer 15 years ago. Jay also lost his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth, to breast cancer and his aunt, Ann, to cancer, giving him extra motivation to support Dana-Farber. Jay’s fundraising partners and bandmates George and Samantha have similar stories: George lost his mom to lung cancer and Samantha’s mother is a cancer survivor.
“There are not many experiences that compare to the feeling of giving back; looking in someone’s eyes and knowing that you touched their heart,” Jay reflects. “Spending time at our events acknowledging the fight against this disease and sharing our personal stories (and some hugs and tears), helps create lasting memories. We want to bring people together and show them that we are all in this together.”
At the upcoming Saugus event at the popular Kowloon Restaurant, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Dana-Farber, and attendees will enjoy a silent auction, opportunity drawings, plenty of food and drinks, and, of course, entertainment. Carolyn Kruse, on-air personality at Country 102.5 FM, will host the event, which will include performances from Samantha Rae WHISKEY-6 and their friends Ayla Brown and Rob Bellamy, Carly Tefft, Darren Bessette, and Sandy Gennaro, legendary touring and recording drummer for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Cyndi Lauper, The Monkees, and more. The Nashville-area events in October will include friends Martin and Kelly, Ayla Brown and Rob Bellamy, and Sandy Gennaro for two nights at the Whiskey Room LIVE, part of the Kings Bowl (Kings Entertainment) complex in Franklin, Tenn.
“The world of the arts and entertainment can be a pretty competitive space, but through these events, we break down those barriers and cheer each other on for a worthy cause,” Jay says. “It’s comforting to know that we can all smile and have a good time, while never losing site of our cause. The Country Women Cancer Fund remains focused on making sure we keep people connected and aware that we are all in this fight against cancer together.”
Support patients and research at Dana-Farber by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.