Though event was canceled in 2020 due to pandemic, group continued to give back
By Joshua Maloni
“RockOut Cancer” will return to the Lewiston Stone House this weekend to raise money for services provided to those battling cancer – and more often than not – aid to their family members.
At a preparty Friday, Sept. 17, starting around 7 p.m., “Summer of ’69 is going to play,” venue owner Emery Simon said. He is a member of the Lower Niagara Community Survivors, the group organizing the event. “We'll have another monster tent. We'll move the stage over there. We're going to have the whole band.”
“Our organization is going to collect at the door,” Simon said. “We're going to charge $10 like we did previous years … and 100% of the door proceeds are going to go to the cancer organization. And then what we do is the Stone House always will do something else. … We do it to make money for the cancer event.”
On Sunday, Sept. 19, “We're gonna have music all day,” Simon said of “RockOut Cancer.” “We have food from the Brickyard. We have food from Gallo. We're gonna have food from Casa Antica. We're going to be fortunate enough to have not only the Village Bake Shoppe, but Just Desserts by Aimee. There'll be plenty of desserts. If you need a sugar fix, this will be the place to go.
“We're gonna have the basket raffles – we're gonna have all of that stuff.”
“ROC” runs from noon to 8 p.m. Bands slated to perform include Mr. Thank You, Busted in Eden, Vinyl Addiction, The Tower and Reflector. Tickets are $25 presale, or $30 at the door. The Stone House is located at 755 Center St.
Simon noted DiMino Lewiston Tops has joined on as a major sponsor, alongside Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
“We were fortunate that Anthony DiMino (signed on),” he said. “I can't say enough about how Anthony DiMino stepped up to match. So now, the three of them are our substantial donors for our event.”
Simon said, “We've been very fortunate” to receive community donations, as well.
In addition, “We were fortunate enough that we got Brad Hardison; he is going to pay for our insurance,” Simon said.
Members of the Lower Niagara Community Survivors group plan for this year’s “RockOut Cancer” events at the Lewiston Stonehouse.
Cancer in a Time of COVID
Simon put it bluntly: “COVID didn’t cure cancer.”
Though he acknowledged the horrific effects of the pandemic on people’s health and livelihoods, he said, “Today, everything is COVID. … We've forgotten about all these people that are suffering (with cancer). Well, they're still suffering. … We’ve got to start thinking about these other things that people are going through.”
“A lot of people themselves have put their care aside because of COVID,” said Town of Lewiston Clerk Donna Garfinkel, also a member of the Lower Niagara Community Survivors. “They haven't done their regular checkups, or go to the doctor like they're supposed to and do their yearly follow-ups. We need to be thinking about it again.”
The coronavirus – and safety measures put in place to limit its spread – forced the 501 (c)(3) organization to cancel the 2020 “RockOut Cancer” event. “ROC” annually raises thousands of dollars for services and donations.
“We were very, very fortunate in 2018, the first year that we had it, that we were blown away at the response that we received, and the donations and everything,” Garfinkel said. “And then we did it again in 2019, and even raised more. And then, yeah, last year we didn't have it; but we were very fortunate to make good money at the first two events.” So much so that charitable contributions have continued on since 2019.
She noted, “This money is there to help people – even do anything, shovel your driveway; you want somebody to go get your groceries. That's the types of things that we want to do for people. People don't realize that that patient is being taken care of by everybody at the hospitals and stuff, but the family might need help to be able to do different things for that person.”
Simon said, “We don't want to be into the medical bill thing. We want to be into the ‘How do we help you help your loved one, or help yourself, while you're going through this horrible event.’ ”
Garfinkel said, “Like you need a ride, you need your grass cut. That individual that has cancer was the major grass-cutter. You need somebody to do that. That’s the kind of stuff that we like to do.”
Simon said, “We’ve gone in, actually, and seen somebody’s drowning. You can see by the numbers they’re drowning. So, what we did was we went and looked at, ‘What is your bills for a month?’ And we've done that, where we said, ‘Look, they don't need anything today; they're just drowning in bills.’ So, what we did was we took one month of their bills. … We took all those expenses – we added them up … so now you have a month off. … For one month you can breathe.”
Garfinkel said, “And in 2019, Tops gave us gift cards. We give the people gift cards, so they can go and get some groceries and not even think about anything. They can just go, and they can eat.”
Simon said, “We give some people cash and gift cards, so you're getting both. Cash sometimes goes over here or there. A Tops card, you've got to use it for groceries. …
“We're trying to do anything we can do to make a horrible experience just a little bit more manageable.”
He added, “We're helping people more and more. … We have two more people who have cancer. … And we have these two events to generate revenue to help people.”
For more information on the Lower Niagara Community Survivors – it services or how to apply for help – visit http://communitysurvivors.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/communitysurvivors/. Donations big and small are gratefully accepted – and they’re tax-deductible.