For the sixth time, the Cancer Can’t Kill Love Benefit Concert brought people from near and far together for the common goal of raising awareness and money to help fight the disease.
Held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at a new venue, the Gjøa Club, 850 62nd St., the full-day event featured live music, drinks, food, more than 50 raffle prizes, merch sales and — above all — between 400 and 500 friends, family and neighbors bonding.
Cancer Can’t Kill Love began in November, 2013, following the death of Managing/Digital Editor of The Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator Meaghan McGoldrick’s mother, Joanne, who succumbed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia just five years after McGoldrick’s father, John Patrick “Butch” McGoldrick, died of asbestos-triggered lung cancer brought on by his work at Ground Zero. The first event was organized by McGoldrick’s friends.
This year, the benefit raised an impressive $23,953 (as of Thursday) with the bulk of the donations going to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) with a small gift for the Dear Jack Foundation. In addition, almost $300 was raised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Walk, which Cancer Can’t Kill Love team members will participate in on Sunday, Oct. 21.
Since its inception, Cancer Can’t Kill Love has raised nearly $80,000 for the fight against cancer.
“None of us have any words for Saturday’s success,” said McGoldrick. “We’re still trying to find them, but when you exceed your own expectations, it’s pretty hard. Never in a million years did we think year six would go so smoothly, never mind that we would raise so much money. Cancer Can’t Kill Love takes a village and this victory is all thanks to that group of people.”
Volume six included letter-writing for pediatric patients at MSKCC, the Dear Jack Foundation and 10-year-old Emily Mitchell, a Bay Ridge student facing fanconi anemia, as well as on-site sign-up for Be the Match, the global leader in bone marrow transplantation which, since first working with Cancer Can’t Kill Love in 2017, has already made at least one match.
Team member Mike O’Neil called the day a huge success.
“For me this event means so much more than raising money for cancer,” he said. “It’s about being a part of something bigger than myself. From the letters that are written for individuals battling cancer to working with other organizations like the AFSP and Be The Match, that’s what makes this event so much more than just donating. It’s an amazing thing that was started here and I can’t wait to help make it grow even more than it already has.”
“I was ecstatic, especially how the sound went with the bands,” added August on Sunday drummer Gerard Sullivan, who helps organize the benefit each year, and spends each event behind the sound booth. “It went flawlessly. All the bands were having a great time. Everyone was receptive afterwards. For us to be able to do this for six years and allow it to still grow is amazing in itself. I am shocked every year we put it together and we continue to surpass anything that we would’ve dreamt of.”
This year’s acts included Stoop Kids, Denizen, Tyler Conroy, Rrhea, On the Fifty, August on Sunday, Counterspace, the Rooftop Rebellion and Side Peace.
The new venue, which was more than double the size of the old one, added a new dynamic to the annual event, with a more spacious outdoor area for the bands and crowds, and an indoor portion for photos, raffles and dancing.
“I think the new venue was a perfect place to host this year’s event,” said O’Neil. “Having the extra space from the inside to the huge yard really allowed us to do everything we wanted to and then some.”
“I thought it went fantastic,” said Sullivan, adding that, of course, the team is already looking towards next year. “With a new venue comes a little bit of growth but also learning at the same time. While everything went smoothly, there a couple of things on our end that we all felt could’ve gone better but that’s just because we are perfectionists.”
This year’s sponsors included the CM Brand, Cait McCarthy Photography, Bridgeside Live, Northfield Bank, Winc, Red White & Brew and the Hero’s Benefit, among others.
“I’m so thankful to all of our sponsors, guests and, above all, our hardworking team,” McGoldrick said. “Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.”
“The reception was nothing but positive,” added O’Neil. “It’s heartwarming. Watching everyone work together, laugh together and just support a good cause together is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.”
Funds will be donated in loving memory of James Lodato, Vicky Padovano, Kevin Flannery Sr. and Sally Kabel, a.k.a. “Sweet Sally Sunshine.”
This year’s event took place on Butch’s birthday. A number of sister events — dubbed “Cancer Grows Love” and organized by last year’s “Family of the Year,” the Kaahaainas — are taking place this fall across the globe in places like California, Hawaii, London, Tokyo, Costa Rica and more.
For more information or to donate, visit www.cancercantkilllove.com.