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Cancer Can’t Kill Love benefit back for seventh year

Love: 7, Cancer: 0

BAY RIDGE — This Saturday, a group of Bay Ridge 20-somethings will once again host the Cancer Can’t Kill Love Benefit Concert, an all-day musical bash that, in its seven-year run, has grown from a small gathering of friends to a sizable community event that draws hundreds — and raises some serious cash for cancer research.

CCKL was formed in 2013, less than a month after then-22-year-old Meaghan McGoldrick’s mother died from leukemia. Five years earlier, McGoldrick’s father had succumbed to mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer likely brought on by his work at Ground Zero. 

McGoldrick, a Brooklyn Eagle reporter and former managing editor for Brooklyn Reporter, wanted to turn her grief into action. 

“My friends were like, what do we do? We have to do something. And most of them are in bands or creatively involved, so they threw a very small event at the back of a bar in Bay Ridge,” said McGoldrick. “We raised about $1,000 and I donated half to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society … and then I said, I want to do it again.” 

Tyler Conroy performed at last year’s CCKL benefit.

This year’s CCKL concert will be held at Sporting Club Gjøa in Sunset Park to benefit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Beginning in the afternoon and raging until midnight, nine musical acts will take the stage, including August on Sunday, a group that’s performed every year at the benefit since CCKL’s inception. 

Attendees can filter in and out, enjoy the music and cheap drinks, and enter for a chance to win over 40 raffle prizes, including eight Caribbean vacation packages donated by Elite Island Resorts. 

In addition to raising money for Memorial Sloan Kettering, CCKL partners with the Dear Jack Foundation, an organization that supports adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families, and Be the Match, a nonprofit that connects patients in need of bone marrow transplants or blood transfusions with eligible donors. 

Representatives from Be the Match will be on site Saturday to swab the cheeks of anyone interested in discovering if they could be a match for a patient in need of a donor. 

Two previous matches have been made at past CCKL events. One of those matches went on to donate blood for a transfusion, which helped save the life of an older man with leukemia. 

“That’s a really fun story that we get to tell,” said McGoldrick. “It’s just a way that we can, without even spending any money, help people, which is really cool.”

Meaghan McGoldrick (center) at a previous CCKL event.

Last year, CCKL raised over $25,000. This year, organizers hope to raise $30,000, the largest goal to date, and one they’re on track to meet — donations exceeding $9,000 have already poured in ahead of the concert. 

“We are the farthest along at this stage that we’ve been,” said McGoldrick. “This time last year, I think we had raised $5,000 or $6,000 ahead of time … So we’re feeling confident, we’re feeling good about it.” 

Since its inception, CCKL has raised over $75,000 for cancer research. If this year’s goal is met, the group will have raised over $100,000. 

Throwing a large benefit concert every year is a lot of work, but McGoldrick says that friends coming out to show their support and the money raised for a good cause make it all worth it. 

A band took the stage at the sixth annual CCKL benefit.

“It’s really fun and it’s kind of where I’ve put all of my grief,” said McGoldrick. “I think that that’s where I channel all of my negative energy. I don’t know what I would do without it.” 

The seventh annual Cancer Can’t Kill Love Benefit Concert begins at 2 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Sporting Club Gjøa, 850 62nd St. 

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