Play It Forward

I don’t know from experience, but my guess is that having brain cancer totally sucks.

Unfortunately, too many people do know from experience. Every year brings more than 66,000 new brain tumor diagnoses. More frightening is this statistic: Brain cancer is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths in children and young adults.

With the goal of helping one local young(ish) adult avoid that miserable fate, musician and self-employed well-driller Jeremy Destin has taken it upon himself to round up musical pals for a benefit concert for Donny Swafford, a 31-year-old Jacksonville man recently diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. (Disclosure: I’m one of those musical pals. I’ll be opening the show.)

“When I heard the news, I instantly went to thinking of how I can’t lose such a friend,” Destin says, “and what I could do to help out. After a couple hours of mourning, I remembered the success a core of friends achieved when they threw a benefit concert for the Wounded Warrior Project, and a light bulb went on.”

Destin and Swafford have been friends since attending Fletcher Middle School together. Destin says they’ve been like brothers ever since. Again, I don’t know from experience, but I imagine watching your “brother” and his family field the blows of such a devastating (and expensive) illness must totally suck.

Destin says Swafford has been through surgery and has had to relearn how to walk and talk. The money raised from the benefit will help defray costs of Swafford’s chemo treatments, which can run upward of $15,000 a month. Needless to say, Swafford’s family’s finances have been exhausted by medical bills, and Swafford still has a long road ahead. But the doctors say the cancer hasn’t spread, and with proper treatments, there is hope for a full recovery.

The show is set for Sunday, March 16 at 3 p.m. at Jack Rabbits in San Marco. On the bill, in order of appearance, are yours truly at 3:30 p.m., followed by Parker Urban Band, Tom Bennett Band, Canary in the Coalmine, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Fit For Rivals and His Name Was Iron. “All the bands are taking the time out of their busy schedules to essentially pay it forward,” Destin says. “They all agreed wholeheartedly to help out with this benefit. The Jacksonville music scene is a very tight-knit group, and I’m lucky enough to be in the know with some of the city’s premier bands.”

This I do know from experience: Being involved with such a benevolent group of musicians getting together to help out a man and his family so desperately in need — that totally does not suck. o

About EU Jacksonville