Trying to kick cancer to the curb.
For the fifth consecutive year, Bay Ridge will play host to a benefit geared towards raising cancer awareness as well as money to help fight the disease.
The Cancer Can’t Kill Love Benefit, which will be held at the Leif Bar, 6725 Fifth Avenue on Saturday, September 23 beginning at 2 p.m., was founded by Managing Editor of The Home Reporter Meaghan McGoldrick, who lost both of her parents to cancer.
The first benefit was held in November, 2013, just a month after McGoldrick’s mother died of leukemia and was successful thanks to friends and the community. Over the years, the event’s size and support have grown substantially. This year aims to be the biggest yet.
McGoldrick explained that she is inspired by the growth and meaning of the benefit. “Year one was very much about my mother, who had died just one month before,” she explained. “Year two was more so about both of my parents and was a pivotal point in us finding our footing. By year three, we had friends of friends coming from states away — none of whom ever knew my parents — and members of our staff eagerly awaiting their turn at the mic to tell their stories. Year four honed in on those personal touches and brought out even more people who simply knew somebody fighting.”
Like past events, this one has a specific theme. “This year, we’re focusing even more on those personal touches by highlighting a handful of super-inspiring survivors and fighters,” McGoldrick said. “Cancer, unfortunately, is something that touches everybody. We hope to do the same, but in a positive way that has everybody coming together for a common cause — and, frankly, kicking its ass.”
The growing support from family and friends has meant a lot to both McGoldrick and the cause, as has the help from Bay Ridge residents. “The support I have received from not only my friends and family, but also from the community since day one has been something I can never put into words,” she said. “It is incredible, to say the least, and really puts life and love in perspective for you.”
The event’s success has been proven. It’s been recognized by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center which invited McGoldrick to speak at its 2017 Donor Recognition Reception where the hospital acknowledges major donors for their contributions and provides informative panels to help grow the events. The experience was an honor for the event’s organizer.
“Never in a million years would I think that I would be considered for such a position,” McGoldrick said, explaining that she had RSVP’ed just to attend the panels and take notes with her team. “I spoke to a room-full of Sloan’s donors — some who are new to fundraising, others who have been doing it for far longer than I have — about donor retention and how to get your guests coming back each year.”
As for entertainment and food, the event is upping the ante. For entertainment, Brooklyn-based band Brandi & the Alexanders will be kicking things off, followed by other local acts like August on Sunday, Stoop Kids and Denizen. “We’ve got our friends Tim and Tom taking the stage with some special guests,” McGoldrick said. “We’ve got a famous YouTuber (and personal friend of mine) Tyler Conroy performing as well as the Hill Bros — a band that’s actually made up of a bunch of family members of mine who are coming in all the way from Maine.”
Closing the show is a new act called Side Peace, made up of musicians from everywhere from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst to Yonkers and Wappingers Falls, New York.
For foodies, all of the eats this year will be homemade and donated by friends and family. Raffle prizes up for grabs will include free ink from Brooklyn Ink tattoo, a wine basket courtesy of Long’s Liquor, a $25 gift card to Baya Bar, and more.
This year is also special as someone from Sloan is coming to speak about breakthroughs and where the donations have gone. “We’ll also be having Be the Match on hand at a table in the backyard, doing swabs for blood and bone marrow donations,” McGoldrick said. “They’ll be speaking as well. And we’ll have a special ‘letters’ table where people can pen letters of hope to two kids — one who is a survivor, and one in the throes of a rare, stage-four diagnosis.”
Gerard Sullivan, who helps McGoldrick organize the event year after year, is also proud of the progression. “All of this is extremely nice because we worked so hard on it for the past five years,” he said. “I feel like this year we tried to put it into the next gear like getting the social media presence going and trying to make this a year-long thing where we are pulling in more donations throughout the year rather than just at the benefit and the weeks before.”