Rocking for a cause

Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor  Ω

Cancer sucks. Everyone has had their life affected by cancer in one way or another. Musician Matt Genshorek has a close friend — also the lead vocalist of his band, I’ve Taken a Lover — who battled brain cancer and won.

Genshorek also has an aunt who survived breast cancer, a grandfather who passed away from cancer and a three-year-old cousin who is recovering from leukemia.

It was cancer’s effect on his life that made him want to make a difference.

“But what can we do to help?” he said.

It was mid-August that he came up with a plan to use his passion for music to take action against the disease.

The Rock for the Cure concert came to be. On Saturday, Oct. 6, eight bands played at the Rotary Bandshell at Riverside Park for more than eight hours in order to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

People could donate on location or online.

The Canadian Cancer Society focuses on prevention, research and support services for cancer victims and their families.

The society’s theme at this event was taking personal charge for health and against cancer.

“What one thing are you going to do?” asked Canadian Cancer Society event coordinator, Tessa Derksen. She said approximately half of all cancer diagnoses are from preventable causes and the society is trying to highlight the changes anyone can make in their life for prevention.

She and two TRU student volunteers, Ryan Turcot and Reason Chambwera, worked under the blue and yellow tent in the warm sun all day collecting donations and communicating to concert goers about the easy changes to make in their lives to prevent cancer. Turcot is a second-year communications student and Chambwera is a post-baccalaureate finance student.

“People in their 20s, 30s, 40s think they don’t need to worry, but the things you do now will affect you down the road,” Derksen said.

She added that people from Kamloops are a very generous group. “They just need an opportunity. We need to create more opportunities.”

Create opportunity is exactly what Genshorek did. It was only a few short months ago he and Rob Wikstrom, his cancer-survivor bandmate were discussing what a fundraising event would look like, and it was in their very first conversation that they wanted the Bandshell, in October, all afternoon. After much hard work, Genshorek made it a reality.

Despite many hours of rallying excitement and building an audience, sponsorship fell short, with only Lee’s Music and 98.3 CIFM jumping on board.

“We waited as long as we could,” Genshorek said. “I wanted this show to happen, so I paid for it.”

He estimated he probably put forward $3,700 himself to make it happen.

“I don’t regret it.”

The total amount raised for the society on the day was more than $1,100, but Derksen and Genshorek are already planning next year’s event with the intention of building off this year’s success.

“I wanted it to be a good show so people will know about it,” he said.

As the afternoon went on, a crowd did slowly form, even those who were at the park for other reasons stopped and stayed for a set.

Papa Tee’s restaurant provided pizzas at the event and as a surprise to Genshorek, donated all their earnings at the end of the day to the society.

The bands were recruited by Genshorek through networking. Every musician donated their time and even Calgary rock group Black Phoenix Orchestra donated their album sales to the society. From Kelowna came Fields of Green. A Name Unheard came from Vancouver and five more Kamloops groups filled the afternoon, including Van Damsel, Matt Stanley and the Decoys and The Fine Print. Mohsin Zaman is a local artist who signed onto the event only the day before to fill in for an injury. Genshorek found time to perform as bassist and guitarist in his group, I’ve Taken a Lover.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated that Genshorek himself was a cancer survivor. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused and it has since been corrected. -Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief