The human condition holds three fundamental truths that are applicable to all individuals on this planet. The first is the absolute need for oxygen. The second is the essentiality of water. The third is that at some point in life, cancer will have an impact in some shape, way or form. There’s no escaping it. There’s no denying it. The most we can do is confront it head on.
I am honored to say that I played a small part in confronting this tragic and terrible disease Saturday night. Leelee, I and a collection of very wonderful and amazing friends took part in a Lyrics For Life event. If you’re not familiar with L4L, it is “an event inspired by the healing power of music.” As an organization, Lyrics For Life hosts concerts and events that raise money for cancer research as well as awareness of cancer’s impact on the lives of so many individuals. It was founded by Sister Hazel front man Ken Block following his brother’s passing at the hands of cancer.
This year’s event in the Tampa Bay area was hosted at the Sheraton Sand Key hotel in Clearwater Beach. It began with an outdoor cocktail hour at which several auction items were on display. The auction items were donated by various celebrities, including Sting, Gene Simmons and U of F basketball coach Billy Donovan, and served as a significant fundraising vehicle for the event. We moved indoors and were treated to a spectacular sit down dinner and a continuation of the open bar. Once our bellies were full and our libations indulged, the real fun began.
With performances by Jon McLaughlin, Edwin McCain and, of course, Sister Hazel, the evening was as memorable as it was intimate. The absolute highlight of the evening was when a very good friend of ours, Jeff, was invited to come on stage and sing accompaniment to Sister Hazel’s signature song “All For You” in place of the absent Drew Copeland. Jeff is the driving force behind the L4L event in Tampa, with his son Tanner being in complete remission following a strenuous battle with cancer earlier this year. It was fun to see Jeff cower in humility, but it was emotionally moving to see him be joined on stage by his son Tanner.
There was something truly magical about that moment, and in keeping with the L4L slogan, it was both healing and powerful. It was encouraging knowing that children who are diagnosed with cancer can overcome the illness. At the same time, it’s sad knowing there are so many children who will not. So many kids who will not see their next birthday or the next school year or the vast majority of their dreams realized. That’s why last night was so important. More than the music and camaraderie and drinking and good times, the key to the Lyrics For Life event is to raise as much money as possible so that every year there are more and more kids who survive and get the opportunity to sing with their favorite band.