The third annual Concert for Carter, in support of CancerCare Manitoba, was held Thu. Mar. 16 at the iconic Park Theatre.
The energy in the room was different than the first such event, held in 2015 just a year after Carter Holdsworth died on his 19th birthday from Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer most common in young people between the ages of 10 and 20.
“The first year everyone showed up to honour Carter and support the cause,” said event organizer Niki Taylor.
“They had a great time and came the second year. The third year has been a little tougher but new people are showing up, which is great,” she explained.
“People have heard Carter’s story and they’re coming because they’ve been affected by this awful disease and want to support what we’re doing,” added co-organizer Lauren Hammond, long time best friend of Holdsworth.
“It’s so important. We need to find a cure and we need it now.”
Taylor, who performed with her band, The Worthy, for the first set, asked for a show of hands by those who had been affected by cancer.
Every person in the room raised their hand.
“That just shows how big an issue this is,” she said. “It affects everyone.”
As she and her band mates shared a toast in honour of Holdsworth, she said, “We as people who have been affected by cancer know that it takes a toll on you. People coming to this event every year are showing that if you want to make a difference you can. Here’s to Carter and all the people that are affected, all the people who have fought, all the people who are still fighting and all those who lost the fight.”
One of those people is Jordan Birrell.
“Jordan lost his very young son Brody to another form of childhood cancer [Rhabdomyosarcoma]. He heard Carter’s story so he decided to come out,” Taylor said.
The Team Brody Foundation has been established to financially assist families in Manitoba affected by childhood cancer. It is fully funded by donations and events happening throughout the year.
Taylor said this shows there’s a community that exists here in Manitoba to support one another. “There are different circles of people that are coming together to do what we can.”
This, she said, is the legacy that Carter would have wanted.
“That support for one another is so vital. It’s not just about Carter anymore and I think he’d be happy about that,” Taylor said. “He always said, ‘I’m going to get through this, I’m going to fight it, I’m going to win and I’m going to get out there and support people and talk about my experience’.”
Concert for Carter was Taylor’s idea as a way to keep Holdsworth’s dream alive.
“So Carter can’t be here, but he’s still doing what he wanted to do in his life and that’s the best part about tonight,” Taylor said.
Carter’s dad, Mark Holdsworth agrees saying it’s been overwhelming to see the continued support.
“I can’t say enough about the efforts of Niki and her committee for pulling this together,” he said.
He cited how Lilliane Tran, one of Carter’s best friends, had managed to get all the silent auction prizes together before leaving for veterinary school in South Africa. “This is how much it matters, even with how busy these young people are.”
How does a parent carry on after such a loss? For Holdsworth it’s remembering the “great funny guy” Carter was. The guy, who on a trip to Mexico as a teen was greeted at poolside one morning by the entire University of Illinois football team chanting, “Carter! Carter! Carter!” “What did you do?” his father asked, to which Carter replied, “I’ll never tell.” Holdsworth said that was trademark Carter.
Hammond remarked she loved hearing that story.
“Carter was the funniest person I’ve ever met even in the hardest times,” said Hammond. “He would never let on how tough things really were. He would laugh, he’d be humble, and he’d be excited that all these people are here not only to support him but also about all the others this is helping.”
Taylor again credits a strong community but also some “incredible bad ass women” who came together to make something happen. “Angie Fournier and Lilliane Tran are both away at school but they’ve been promoting the event, providing moral support, and donating their time as well as prizes from far away.”
Taylor, who works for the Seven Oaks school division at a youth support program called Wayfinders, finished her BA and is going back to university to finish here education degree in September. Hammond just started as an apprentice for jewelry designer, Hillary Druxman. So while they’re all “super busy” they all agree this is super important.
The 2017 organizing committee of Taylor, Hammond, Tran and Fournier is rounded out by many others who helped with their time and prize donations.
Jérémie Brémault, lead vocalist for Jérémie & The Delicious Hounds who headlined the show said the band was thrilled to support such a great cause.
“Lauren asked us to do it and we were more than happy to. It’s definitely a pleasure and an honour to come and participate,” he said. “This brutal disease touches everybody.”
The event was successful in reaching its goal of raising $5,000 for cancer research through ticket sales and silent auction. This brings the three year total raised to $20,000.