I walked into the center's small break room to stretch my legs. While I was trying to decide which soda to pick from the vending machine, a woman who looked to be in her early 40s walked in. She reminded me of Dorothea Lange's iconic 1936 black and white photo from the Great Depression— the mother with the lined, weary face who had two hungry children leaning against her shoulders.
I don’t remember exactly what the lady in the break room was wearing or what she really looked like, but in my mind she is now forever replaced by that image of the destitute Great Depression mother.
With a somber tension in her voice, she whispered quietly into her cell phone. I could hear the profound desperation in her voice. She didn’t know how she was going to continue to pay for her mother’s chemotherapy, she said. She would have to choose between paying her rent or paying for her mother’s cancer treatment.
I walked out of the room and went back to Susie, my bride of 40 years, who was in her own treatment lounge chair receiving her daily chemotherapy at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.
I explained to Susie the distraught conversation I just heard and how sad I felt for the woman. I’ll never forget Susie’s words. As ill as she was, she straightens up in her chair, stopped her crocheting, adjusted her purple knitted cap and looked straight into my eyes. In her usual quiet yet forward tone that all husbands know demands obedience, said, “Well, we just have to do something to help.”
And do something we did.
Horseshoe Tournaments, Wine Tasting events, husband and wife Bunko games are but a few of the many family fundraising activities Susie organized to financially help cancer patients. Even as Susie neared the end of her own cancer journey, she insisted on helping others.
With the help of my children, all these fundraising activities eventually morphed into the Media Music Jam.
Thanks to my bandmates in Thee Majestics, my “Wavehog” family members and willing media friends, this June 22 marks the sixth year that we have been blessed to produce the concert at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. And although Thee Majestics have held Media Music Jams for the past 20 years for different causes, we have found a home at the Crystal Palace and a cause very personal to us.
A portion of the proceeds from this year's Media Music Jam will go to the Kern County Cancer Fund (KCCF) whose purpose is to financially assist eligible Kern County residents with costs associated with cancer diagnosis, care and treatment. I have the honor of serving with like-minded community KCCF board members who see first-hand the impact of financially helping those in most need. A portion will also go to another of the CBCC Wellness programs, their Mobil Angel Transportation Program, which primarily transports children to cancer related services and treatment.
Although this year’s Media Music Jam sold out in record time, funds are always needed to help Kern County cancer patients … adults and children. So even if you sadly did not purchase a ticket to this year’s concert, you can still help those in most need by donating directly to the KCCF or the Mobile Angel Transportation Program.
My limited space in this column does not allow me to name or thank the 30 media performers and community leaders who will forgo their own egos and perform in front of a sold-out Crystal Palace. And they do this for people they don’t know and will probably never meet. Almost to the person, each one of the performers has pulled me aside and explained their own cancer journey or that of a family member or friend. Media Music Jam is personal for my children, our Wavehog family, friends and for many of the performers.
Remember, Media Music Jam isn’t about how Kern has talent. It’s more about how Kern has heart.