It was another record-breaking year for the 2019 Gone Country – Here for the Cure cancer fundraiser. Hundreds will be helped by those who came together this weekend to enjoy some country music and help defeat cancer.
The seventh annual charity concert, held at Bill Reid Amphitheatre in Cloverdale Saturday, was a sell-out. And, according to event co-founder Chris Ruscheinski, many of the Gone Country’s 6,000 guests showed up early, stayed late, and spent lots of money in aid of the cause.
“The generosity this year was next level,” Ruscheinski said. “Tip jars were full, merchandise sold out before sundown, and you almost drank our taps dry,” he added of the participants who packed the fairground’s field.
The goal was to raise $750,000 this year. They brought in a “whooping” $822,000.
“We are so thrilled,” Ruscheinski said. “We never imagined our little backyard barbecue could turn into something this size.”
He added: “Thank you all for supporting us idiots and our fight against cancer.”
A 39-year-old Brookswood mother of three shared just how much Gone Country and the assistance she’s receiving from Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski and the Twins Cancer Fundraising initiatives mean to her.
Friends and loved-ones organized a few fundraising efforts to help Nicole Champagne and her family since she was diagnosed with aggressive triple negative breast cancer in spring 2018. One of those methods of fundraising was participation in the Gone Country’s Raise It For the Cause program.
Since Champagne was diagnosed last year, she has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, confirming her treatments are now over, and she’s focusing all her energy on healing and recovery.
“As of March 15, I was done… I was so happy,” Champagne shared, noting she’s hoping to be back to work this fall. “My energy is not 100 per cent, so I still get tired pretty quickly,” but there was no way that Champagne and Jordan, her partner of 14 years, were going to miss this year’s Gone Country.
“Saturday was amazing. It was soooo busy. The energy was so positive, and knowing everyone was there because they care was so powerful,” she shared with Black Press Media Sunday night, just minutes before the final fundraising totals were revealed. “The highlight of my day was just seeing all the people smiling and getting along. Showing so much love and support.”
The Raise It For the Cause component of Gone Country was added three years ago, and allows individuals or groups of supporters to nominate a person for assistance from Gone Country. Ultimately the amount of assistance for that person – who is suffering financially in their fight against cancer – receives a donation that correlates directly to the amount of Gone Country tickets sold on their behalf.
This year, cheques will go out to a record 34 recipients and the program saw 1,555 tickets sold, which translated to $92,500 raised for individuals in need.
Watching so many people rallying to help loved-ones and even complete strangers, Chris only expects this component of Gone Country to grow.
“I know how much (Gone Country has) helped families affected by cancer and how this disease has personally touched Chris and Jamie,” Champagne said. “They first hand know how hard it is and it’s awesome they have grown to make such a difference in the battle against cancer.”