When Clare Murray found out that her great-uncle, Harold Endres, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, she felt the need to take action. So she organized Gray Matter Matters, a benefit concert created to raise money and awareness for brain tumor research. Even the name of the event is designed to be informative.
“Brain matter is called gray matter, so I really wanted to stress that brain tumors are important issues,” said Clare, a junior at Weston High School. “I also thought it was a great play on words that people might remember.”
The event, which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Fairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne in Fairfield, features performances by Weston High School indie-rock band Chillingsworth, Fairfield University a cappella group The Sounds, and Casey Carle in his “Bubblemania” show. Clare said she chose acts that were willing to donate their time or perform at a reduced rate.
“I also wanted to make sure the event would be appealing to various age groups,” said Clare. “Brain tumors affect everyone. They are not age specific.”
Steve Friedman, a member of Chillingsworth, said the diversity of the performers would benefit the event. “They show the variety of people and groups who care about the cause, and likewise will hopefully attract a variety of people to come to the event and support the cause themselves,” he said.
Money raised during the event will be donated to the American Brain Tumor Association.
“It’s a great non-profit organization that has provided my family with a lot information on the disease,” Clare said. “Although my uncle has not directly been helped by this organization, they are helping thousands just like him, and with more research they may even be able to find a treatment that could prolong patient lives even more.”
Clare said it took her about six months to organize Gray Matter Matters, during which time she contacted several potential performers and venues.
“I really just made myself a course of action that gave me an idea of what I needed to get done and when,” said Clare. “Bonnie Fitzgerald, the events organizer [at Fairfield Theatre Company] was a great help. From there, advertising has been ongoing. I’m hanging posters around Weston and neighboring towns.”
Tish Murray, Clare’s mother, said she was skeptical at first.
“To be honest, I tried to prevent the event from happening because I thought it was too big an undertaking, but Clare is very persistent,” Ms. Murray said. “I personally feel that for Clare, to try to help in any small way that she can will keep her memories and love for our uncle alive in her heart forever.”
Mr. Endres, who is 65 and lives in Closter, N.J., has had two brain surgeries, radiation treatment, and is still going through chemotherapy. He is also part of a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. Ms. Murray said that the past year has been a difficult one for her family.
“My grandmother had just passed away a few months before, so we were not prepared for this unhappy news regarding my uncle,” she said. “I had told Clare at that time that we could pray for him, but that was all we could do. I am very proud of my daughter for doing more than I thought we could.”
Ultimately, Clare hopes the event will come to represent more than her family’s individual struggle.
“I hope Gray Matter Matters will remind people that they are fortunate to be in a position to help others who are less fortunate,” Clare said. “Those affected will know that others care.”
Tickets for the benefit concert may be purchased in advance online at fairfieldtheatre.org or by calling the box office at 203-259-1036.