By 22, I'd lost both of my parents to cancer.
No more than one month after my mother, Joanne, died lost a brief bout with Leukemia, friends gathered from near and far to celebrate her life — and the life of my father, Butch, who succumbed in 2008 to lung cancer brought on by his work at Ground Zero — while simultaneously raising money to get me back on my feet.
And so, the first ever Cancer Can't Kill Love Benefit Concert was born. Named after a sermon spoken at my mother's funeral and thrown together by a few close friends in the back of a Bay Ridge bar on NFL Sunday, the November 2013 fundraiser served as a platform for local bands to share the stage and supporters to make a toast, all with one common goal: to tell cancer to take a hike. There, we raised just over $1,000 - half of which went to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in my mother's name and memory.
One year later, we raised the stakes.
The Second Annual Cancer Can't Kill Love Benefit Concert saw six local bands, hundreds of attendees and over $6,000 in donations, every cent of which went straight to Stand Up To Cancer. The third blew our expectations out of the water and brought in an incredible $13,000 for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center — the very hospital my father called home for most of his treatment. Volume four did the same, racking up another (totally casual) $13,000.
CCKL5 brought in an additional $14,000 for MSKCC with an additional $1,000 for the Lustgarten Foundation. Volumes six and seven both broke records, bringing in an unbelievable $25,000 in 2018 and an even crazier $35,000 in 2019. Like so many other events, CCKL went virtual in 2020 — and still raised over $25,000. CCKL9 brought us back together in person, where we were able to gather safely — and raise more than $30,000.
That brings our grand total to-date to more than $150,000 toward cancer research. And we're only getting started.
-- Meaghan McGoldrick, Lead Organizer
The Fifth Annual Cancer Can't Kill Love Benefit Concert was something special. Not only did we raise upwards of $15,000 for cancer research (a new record), we were thrilled to honor our first-ever Family of the Year: The Kaahaaina Family.
In early 2017, we reached out to the Kaahaaina family from Honolulu, Hawaaii to see if we could honor their son, Luke - a brave 14-year-old who, as of Summer 2017, is finally cancer-free - at our fifth annual event. That freedom, of course, comes after a tough battle with Leukemia, a fight during which Luke underwent a crucial bone marrow transplant - his own father becoming his match. During this time, the Kaahaaina family also founded The Kahie Project so that others like Luke could find their donors. When approached about Cancer Can't Kill Love, the Kaahaainas were all in - Luke's father, David, even booked a flight. In the months leading up to September 23, they offered help in any and every capacity. They even promised to bring our little event-that-could to their hometown of Honolulu in the coming years. Little did we know that was only the beginning.
During what all of us at Cancer Can't Kill Love 5 expected to be a few words about Luke's incredible journey, David surprised the room. He announced that, in 2018 (with the help of families near and far), Cancer Can't Kill Love will be going global with at least eight new sister-events happening in places like California, London and Tokyo, to name a few. These spin-offs will be called "Cancer Grows Love." The new title, David says, is representative of the hope and positivity Cancer Can't Kill Love continues to promote and inspire.
As carefully as we've picked these words, we admit, they still fail us. Our gratitude is endless. We are so blessed, and thrilled to work with Be The Match back home while the Kaahaainas help us go global.
-- all of us at Cancer Can't Kill Love