Woodbridge Rockers Hold Anniversary Show To Benefit Pancreatic Cancer Research

The Knight Owls are John Check (guitar/lead vocals), Matt Check (lead guitar), Manny Pena (bass) and Ron Wagenhoffer (drums/percussion). (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Takavchin/www.takashot.com)

GARWOOD — The Knight Owls, an emerging Woodbridge-based blues and rock band, will celebrate the first anniversary of their debut album and honor the memory of lead signer’s father by organizing benefit show this week and donating funds to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, nearly a year after “Who Gives a Hoot” was released, John Check and the rest of the band are set to celebrate their milestone with a charitable performance at The Crossroads in Garwood. All the proceeds from tickets sales for the show will be donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to help further their mission and pancreatic cancer research in memory of Check’s late father.

“The main reason we chose to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was because my father passed away from this terrible disease,” Check says. “Many people, whether you are a celebrity or not, unfortunately get this cancer and don’t stand a chance. It has been 16 years since my dad died and seems as if little progress has been made. We want to help change that any way we can.”

Slated to start at 7 p.m., in addition to The Knight Owls’ set, the event will include a comedy act, as well as performances from New Jersey rockers Sinsanity and Sophomore Peacock. Playing the role of host for the evening will be The Crossroads, a local live-music venue and eatery owned by Westfield native Lee Frankel.Tickets for the benefit are on sale now through the venue as well as participating bands and acts and will also be available a the door.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. With the untimely passing of Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs recently, as well as those of actor Patrick Swayze and Jazz pianist Count Bassie over the last several years, there has been an increase in general awareness of just how serious a disease pancreatic cancer can be; however much work still remains to be done.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) was founded by three visionaries in 1999 as a small, non-profit, patient-based advocacy organization. Now with headquarters in El Segundo, CA, and a Government Affairs & Advocacy office in Washington, DC, the organization fulfills its mission through a nationwide network of people dedicated to working together to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer.

Since the formation of PanCAN, the federal research allocation for pancreatic cancer from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has risen nearly fivefold, from $17.3 million to $89.4 million in 2009. Although government spending on pancreatic cancer research has grown, it still lags far behind other major cancers. Currently, only 2 percent of the NCI’s annual cancer budget is spent on pancreatic cancer, making fundraiser events such as The Knight Owls’ benefit concert integral to their cause.

“Across the country a wide range of third party fundraisers take place each year, raising anywhere from 60 dollars to large sum checks, all of which add up”, says Katie Kachurak, Programs Manager of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “This last fiscal year we raised nearly a million dollars just from third party fundraiser events. All of the money we collect directly benefits our patients, as well as supports research funding and our advocacy groups.”

Contributions made to PanCAN support important needs of the organization which include, but are not limited to: funding for research programs; funding for advocacy programs and community outreach; patient services and care; supporting future fundraiser events; as well as financial relief to families effected by the crippling disease.

“If we are able to make a positive difference in the life of another with our music, then it makes all the practices and work we put in worth it,” Check says.

“I am very big on doing what I can to help people with music,” says Check’s son Matt, the band’s lead guitarist and back-up vocalist. “To actually be able to help a cause, to be able to help people with music, is nothing short of amazing.”

To find out more abut the Knight Owls and hear several tracks off their debut album, visit http://www.facebook.com/theknightowlsmusic.

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