Big Head Todd and the Monsters set to Rock for Raymond, a cause that hits close to home

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Big Head Todd and the Monsters already devote a good deal of time and energy to charity-related events and organizations. But when the outfit plays an intimate show at the Soiled Dove Underground this Friday, October 26 (with Johnny Hickman from Cracker, who's opening the show), it will be for a cause that hits close to home. Very. Keyboardist Jeremy Lawton has a brother who sits on the board of the organization that will benefit from the show, the Raymond Wentz Foundation. The mission of that group is to help give emergency aid to cancer patients -- and as it happens, one of the band's members is a recovering cancer patient.

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A little more than three years ago, the band's drummer, Brian Nevin, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after a routine physical in which a doctor discovered a lump in his neck. He ended up undergoing surgery to remove the gland. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early, and the subsequent treatment has been successful. Nevin had a great support system in place, as well as the resources to withstand the ordeal -- but he knows not everyone is as fortunate. "I had good insurance," he points out, "and I have a job, so I could take care of myself through treatments. But if you're going through it, it can be crippling."

With this notion in mind, Nevin and his bandmates were happy to hop on board with "Rock for Raymond," as the event's been dubbed. The money raised will enable the foundation to offer more help to those folks grappling with cancer, people who are having difficulty managing the essentials -- putting food on the table, covering their rent or mortgage or even keeping the heat on in the winter - while they contend with their illness. "It provides money to help out cancer patients who don't have a lot of money, not on the insurance side," Nevin explains. "It's more just for life."

"There was a cancer patient, a seventeen-year-old kid named Raymond Wentz, whose mother had passed away and whose father was having hard times," he continues. "The doctors working with him didn't realize that he was riding his bike to treatments. He didn't have any money. He had no food. He wasn't getting healthy because they couldn't afford it. And so the doctor started this fund to say, 'There's a lot of people like this. It's not just that they have problems affording health care. They can't afford to live. And you can't expect a patient who needs bed rest and needs healthy food to survive without that.' So that's what this foundation does.

"The thing with cancer," he concludes, "it's rare to get through life and not have cancer touch your life in some sense, whether it be a loved one or knowing someone going through it. Besides going through it myself, my mother's had breast cancer, and my sister died of a cancer."

Since it was founded in 2002, the Raymond Wentz Foundation has helped 2,500 cancer patients, both here in Colorado and across the country; benefits like this one will help push the cause. Tickets are $150, and there are a limited number available for this intimate show.

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