Children’s cancer event strikes a chord

Local band Black Max is co-hosting a fundraiser with the Valley Huskers for children's cancer at Friendly Mike's Pub on Nov. 28.

Black Max band members Bob Marton (left) and Preston Sawyer chat about the dinner

Black Max band members Bob Marton (left) and Preston Sawyer chat about the dinner

It’s the story that breaks your heart.

A child, far too young, falls seriously ill.

Most of us will remember when it happened to two year old Lilee-Jean Putt. But there are about 130 new cases of cancer diagnosed in children under age 17 each year in B.C. alone.

We are all impacted by cancer and its devastating effects, but the magnitude of those effects is often what brings people together to make a difference.

The fundraiser on Nov. 28 benefitting B.C. Children’s Hospital, hosted in partnership between the Valley Huskers Football Club, local band Black Max and Friendly Mike’s Pub, is one way for Chilliwack to make an impact.

Black Max lead guitarist Bob Marton was scrolling through Facebook when he saw a friend’s post about childhood cancer. Marton was instantly reminded of the painful memories from when his own son Nick was diagnosed with Leukemia. “It tore through our family without any regard,” he said.

But after two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Vancouver, the doctors confirmed that Nick’s cancer was in remission.

“My son was lucky. He fought a hard fight and won,” Marton explained. Not everyone is so lucky to beat the beast of a disease.

In front of his computer that day in early October, Marton became motivated to make a tangible impact.

He first called his bandmates, Preston Sawyer, Lorne Taylor and Dave Cosgrave, who were immediately on board to provide the entertainment.

Lead vocalist Sawyer lost his mother and brother-in-law to lung cancer a mere four months apart, and he still feels the impacts of their passing.

“Not to minimize, but cancer doesn’t just affect the people who have it. It affects everybody around them too,” he said.

Marton then reached out to Wayne Oberst from Rock the $#@! Out of Cancer for advice, the Valley Huskers board for fundraising partnership, and Friendly Mike’s for the venue and menu.

Many local businesses have volunteered to support the cause and donate to the silent auction, too.

Valley Huskers social media coordinator Linda Drummond revealed some of the auction items, including dinner certificates, car detailing and apparel packages, unique furniture and artwork, gift cards for local services, and many more to come.

Proceeds from ticket sales and donations will go to toward childhood oncology research at B.C. Children’s Hospital. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to two local families with children undergoing cancer treatments.

The Nov. 28 fundraiser aligns with the recent changes at Friendly Mike’s, where manager Nicole McRae has decided to bring live entertainment into the pub every week.

Black Max, named after Marton’s black lab, has been performing in various iterations for seven years, having recently participated in Friendly Mike’s Sunday jam night.

“The response has been phenomenal so far,” said Sawyer, who joined the band in June. “We know we’ve got something good going, and we have a great time [on stage].”

Tickets for the event are $20 and include a dinner of steak or chicken alfredo, access to the silent auction, and a night to rock out to a great, local band for a worthy cause.

“Let’s fill the place and have a good time, and let’s feel lucky that we can,” Marton enthused.

Tickets are available through the Valley Huskers, at Friendly Mike’s or can be ordered online through the Black Max Facebook page.

The event begins at 6 p.m.