Surrey’s Samantha Andrews learned the words promyelocytic leukemia the same time many other children are learning to read.
Andrews was diagnosed with the disease – rare for children, at the tender age of only five.
“It’s a blood cancer,” she said. “At the time, I was one of only four children in North America diagnosed with that type. As far as I know, I’m the only one left.”
The good news is that Andrews, 22 – a singer and regular performer in Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society shows – has been in remission for almost 15 years.
The other good news is that she, together with FVGSS buddy and fellow performer Sabrielle McCurdy-Foreman, 18, are using their connections among young performers in White Rock, Surrey and Delta to stage the first of a planned annual series of variety show concerts to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
In addition to Andrews, Talents For A Cure, Saturday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at Earl Marriott Secondary’s Wheelhouse Theatre (15751 16 Ave.), will feature such noted emerging talents as Their There, Tommy Alto, Brett McCrady, Adam Olgui, Paula Cooper and comedian Hamza Zain.
All of the performers are volunteering their services for the event, which will also feature baked goods, refreshments, a silent auction, raffle and 50/50 draw. Andrews put on a similar concert when she was still at Frank Hurt Secondary (she graduated in 2006), but was limited by the fact she was an organizing committee of one.
“There wasn’t as much variety,” she said. “It helps to have Sabrielle to help. It’s really great to be able, finally, to do a bigger concert and get all of my friends involved.”
Andrews and McCurdy-Foreman met during the run of the most recent FVGSS pantomime, Snow White (“we were both ‘vertically-challenged excavators,” Andrews said) and their friendship continued through the spring production of The Gondoliers, which led to frequent discussions about a follow-up project for the pair.
“Samantha started talking about doing this fundraiser during one of our late night excursions to McDonald’s,” McCurdy-Foreman said.
“She’s great at getting people motivated.”
Andrews and McCurdy-Foreman are encouraging businesses, organizations and others in the community to donate goods, services or money to support the cause.
In addition to the support of the Canadian Cancer Society, the event has already received raffle items from Sandcastle Fitness, Harmony Expressive Arts and Cineplex Odeon Theatres, for whom Andrews works.
And McCurdy-Foreman, who is one of the house managers for the Wheelhouse Theatre at Earl Marriott Secondary – from which she graduated last year – was able to use her connections there to line up a strong technical team for the show.
The big irony is that, McCurdy-Foreman – for all her hard work helping set up the show over the last two months – won’t be able to perform in, or attend it herself.
On the evening in question she’ll be on stage for a Chilliwack Light Opera Society-Chillwack Symphony co-production of The Pirates of Penzance, featuring many other FVGSS talents.
“I’m a little heartbroken,” she said. “I wanted to see it come together – and see how it came together.”
“Hopefully, somebody will film it and she’ll be able to see the video,” Andrews said.
And – if the concert is the success they hope, and deserve – there’ll be the chance to perform in a second show next year.
For tickets to Talents For A Cure ($15, students and seniors $12) call 604-619-0236, 604-619-0236 or email Talents.firstname.lastname@example.org