The Concert for Life tradition
The first CFL was in Gurnee, IL in February, 2001. It was organized and put on by the Warren Township High School FBLA
program (Future Business Leaders of America) in honor of Kate Pedersen, a student at the time and FBLA officer. Kate had
cancer and her fellow students wanted to raise money for the ACS in her honor.
At the time, I was a student at Marquette University. Since I went to Warren, and because the FBLA staff knew about my father's story, they asked me to be the musician at the show. I had put on my first-ever concert in 2000 and some of the staff from Warren were at the show and liked the songs and messages that they heard. So, together with the memories of my father and the inspiration of Kate, we had our first CFL in Gurnee in 2001.
What it has since grown into is something that I find hard to describe. I often think of where I would be without the CFL. The show has become a part of who I am as a person and it was a part of my life during some of my more formative years. I can't imagine my life without the memories of the CFL. And as much as the show has inspired me as a person and a musician, I know it has inspired thousands of others who have been to one of the concerts, whether as a volunteer or an audience member.
The show's success is attributed to all of the students, teachers, volunteers, parishioners, musicians, benefactors and audience members that have helped grow the Concert For Life from an idea with immense potential into a fundraising model that generates just as much hope as it does money. I'm forever grateful to anyone who has ever sold a ticket, baked a brownie, edited a program, donated a raffle, tied a ribbon, copied a flyer, moved a piano, played a song, or applauded a performance.
The CFL has never been just about the music or the money. The show's focus is fellowship and its best measure of success is hope. Since the first show in February of 2001, this concert has served as a reason for people to gather in support of those who fight a fight that should never be fought alone. The CFL has shown the impact that a group of dedicated individuals can have on the world, no matter what our age. It is a testament to the power of inspiration, the capability of dedication, and the promise of a vision.
Kate lost her battle with cancer in November of 2002, five years after my dad lost his fight in November of 1997. She was able to attend the first two CFLs in Gurnee. Many people remember the progress she made from 2001 to 2002 after seeing all of the support and hope that her community and classmates were giving her. As much as she inspired us, we were also an inspiration for her - a reason to keep fighting. It is her memory and the memory of my father that provide the inspiration for the Concert For Life year after year.
While we said goodbye to the CFL in Gurnee in 2014, its legacy will continue in future events organized by Warren Township's FBLA and through my music.
|March 7, 2014||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$35,163|
|March 10, 2013||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$34,000|
|April 22, 2012||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$33,800|
|March 13, 2011||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$43,950|
|March 14, 2010||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$45,700|
|March 22, 2009||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$38,000|
|April 6, 2008||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$38,500|
|March 8, 2008||Milwaukee, WI||Marquette University||$2,500|
|October 21, 2007||Pleasant Prairie, WI||St. Anne Church||$1,000|
|July 29, 2007||Mt. Prospect, IL||St. Cecilia Church||$3,500|
|April 22, 2007||Milwaukee, WI||Marquette University||$5,000|
|March 11, 2007||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$37,000|
|October 6, 2006||Pleasant Prairie, WI||St. Anne Church||$1,000|
|July 21, 2006||Gurnee, IL||Bethel Lutheran Church||$1,300|
|March 12, 2006||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$23,700|
|September 29, 2005||Milwaukee, WI||Marquette University||$4,800|
|July 8, 2005||Gurnee, IL||Bethel Lutheran Church||$2,500|
|May 1, 2005||Libertyville, IL||St. Joseph Church||$8,000|
|March 13, 2005||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$20,500|
|February 22, 2004||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$16,000|
|February 12, 2004||Milwaukee, WI||Marquette University||$2,000|
|March 21, 2003||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$12,000|
|November 21, 2002||Milwaukee, WI||Marquette University||$1,800|
|February 22, 2002||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$8,000|
|February 23, 2001||Gurnee, IL||St. Paul the Apostle Church||$6,000|
Total raised for the American Cancer Society: $425,913