Hi everyone! Cristie Healey here!
It’s just over a week to go before our birthday celebration for Jeff, Jeff Healey: A 50th Celebration Friday May 27th at Massey Hall! With the obvious focus being on Jeff for what would have been his 50th birthday year, I’d like to touch on another topic that is a very important component to the show. World Eye Cancer Hope. The purpose of this show is to celebrate Jeff and the amazing person he was and to also support the research and treatment of Childhood Retinoblastoma. The same cancer that took Jeff’s sight as a child.
There are many things that made Jeff a great person. The obvious would be his undeniable and incredible talent as a musician and entertainer, but there was a lot more to Jeff Healey than the music. By all accounts Jeff was a regular person with passions and interests just like the rest of us. However, facing life’s struggles as they came, he dealt with them very differently than most people I know. Head on. By that I mean, after a brief time of collecting info and options, he usually took a running start at anything that stood out as an obstacle. Being blind had never been something to hold him back…unless of course he wanted to get a driver’s license and even then, he was known to drive speed boats, the occasional bus, a police car and yes…he even flew a plane.
With all of Jeff’s successes he never once forgot having to overcome struggles growing up in a sighted man’s world. So, he always gave back. Through countless efforts to raise awareness and support for the CNIB (the Canadian National Institute for the Blind), he participated in many fundraisers over the years. Also an avid reader, Jeff was a constant advocate for literacy. The amount of braille material in our home was a close second to his record collection.
Once he had children, his support for charity grew much more and he focused more on childhood cancer research. Jeff knew there was a 50% chance of his children being born with Retinoblastoma, the cancer that took his sight. This reality probably scared him more than anything else he had ever faced. His daughter Rachel was not born with Retinoblastoma, but he would not know she didn’t carry the genetic mutation he had until she reached the age of 7. Through tireless research, doctors were finally able to identify the mutation in Jeff’s blood and Rachel was in the clear. Our son Derek, was the other side of that 50% chance. During the ten year age gap between the children, a DNA test was created to detect the mutation in vitro. We knew Derek would be born with Retinoblastoma and it was only a matter of time before the tumors started showing up.
Luckily, Derek’s Retinoblastoma situation has had amazing success! Thanks to the incredible research, early detection developments and treatment options, he has grown from a baby with several tumors in both eyes to an 11 year old healthy boy with near perfect vision…and doesn’t even wear glasses.
While we are so incredibly grateful to all who helped with Derek’s treatment and all who have supported us, there are many children who have not been as lucky as he has. There will continue to be children with this disease who will go undetected around the world and even in Canada, without the availability of proper education. The research and education has made leaps and bounds just in the last decade and our family is living proof of that. Unfortunately, if the cancer is not caught, it will inevitably make its way to the brain and the child will not survive.
World Eye Cancer Hope has Chapters in Canada, the U.K., USA and a partnership with Kenya Childhood Cancer Trust. They became an official charity dedicated to Childhood Retinoblastoma research in 2005 when they were still known as Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund (they rebranded their name to WeCHope in 2015). I myself have met many doctors from around the world who have come to train and specialize in Retinoblastoma. I have met them because they trained under Dr. Brenda Gallie as well as many other amazing doctors with the Retinoblastoma team at Sick Kids Hospital here in Toronto. The same team responsible for Derek’s healthy eyes today. Once the visiting doctors are fully educated, they take this knowledge home with them to give hope and treatment to children in their own countries.
ALL proceeds of this show will be donated to World Eye Cancer Hope (aka WeCHope). Our goal is to celebrate Jeff and to support a very great cause that will help children in our country and around the world. Every child who is diagnosed with Retinoblastoma deserves the chance to fight this with great success. That takes help though from everyone.
So please, join us to celebrate Jeff for what would have been his 50th birthday this year and support World Eye Cancer Hope and the wonderful work they do.
It’s going to be an incredible show and we hope to see you all there!
We’ll be back again very soon with a fresh feature on more of the amazing talents that will be gracing the stage in celebration of Jeff Healey on May 27th! Stay tuned! Peace. ~Rog
Friday May 27th, at the legendary Massey Hall in Toronto – “Jeff Healey: A 50th Celebration”
Join us for an amazing night of music celebrating Canadian music icon, Jeff Healey in what would have been his 50th birthday year!
Featuring: Albert Lee, Sonny Landreth, Walter Trout, The Trews, Philip Sayce, The Jeff Healey Alumni Band, Special guests Shakura S’Aida, “Mr. Downchild” himself – Donnie Walsh, some very cool surprises and a KILLER House Band feat. Pat Rush, Stan Miczek, Jerome Godboo, Dean Glover, Chris Caddell… with all proceeds going to World Eye Cancer Hope!
Great seats still available! You can get yours from Ticketmaster, at Live Nation and at the Massey Hall/Roy Thompson Hall box office!