By Leilani Roberts Ott
When the guys from the Billy Arnett Band heard about Battle of the Bands, they jumped on it.
Band member Mitch Vance said they had two reasons — the exposure for the new band and to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of Memphis, Tenn.
The Battle of the Bands starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Roxy Theater in Muskogee. The admission fee is $15. The concert is sponsored by Chili’s Grill & Bar.
Nanette Fabian, who helped open Chili’s in Muskogee and is now manager of Chili’s in Tahlequah, said all of the proceeds will go to St. Jude as part of Chili’s More Hope Campaign.
That’s important to Jennifer Farmer of Wagoner. She’ll kick off the show by telling her family’s story.
Farmer met Fabian last year at the St. Jude Give Thanks walk in Tahlequah. This year’s walk is Nov. 23.
Farmer’s daughter Kiley, now 4, was only 9 months old when she was found to have bilateral retinoblastoma, or cancer of the eyes. The rare cancer is diagnosed in 250 children each year.
“St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital gave us hope in such a terrifying time,” Farmer said. “Kiley received 11 rounds of tough chemotherapy. She also received several laser surgeries to her eyes.”
Kiley’s older sister, Kelsey, now 9, was in kindergarten while Farmer was at St. Jude’s with Kiley. Later, Kelsey came to visit her baby sister and underwent testing. She’s “better than wonderful,” Farmer said.
The family takes Kiley back to the hospital every three months, Farmer said. St. Jude pays for travel and Kiley’s care. The girls love to go there because everyone is so nice, Farmer said.
“Research there helps not just Kiley, but kids and adults all over the world,” Farmer said. “Unfortunately, on July 18, 2012, just two days prior to Kiley’s third birthday, her right eye had to be removed — another devastating event in her life. Kiley received her new eye six weeks later. She has adjusted well. She still wants the broken eye fixed because she realizes she can not see out of it. Kiley’s left eye remains stable — no new tumors.”
So when the Battle of the Bands starts rocking on Saturday, Kiley and Kelsey will be there on the front row.
“They love music,” Farmer said.
The eight bands competing are:
• Billy Arnett Band.
• Galactic Indians.
• TL O’dell.
• Roots & Lost Things.
• White Trash Banditos.
• Desi and Cody.
• Whisper Men.
Fabian said the Billy Arnett Band will be the first to perform. The bands will play 15-minute sets, and then the audience will vote for a winner. The prize is $500.
That would be great for the band, said Vance, who plays bass guitar. Other band members are Billy Arnett of Wagoner, singer/
songwriter and guitar; Joe Young of Muskogee, lead guitar; and Jeremy Hayes of Fort Gibson, drummer. Some of them have played together for seven or eight years, but they’ve been with Arnett for about a year.
“We play Red Dirt music — Texas country,” Vance said.
They are ready to introduce people to their sound.
Cassandra Gaines, The Roxy’s manager, said it was partnering with Chili’s for the event.
“We’re going to make it a fruitful day,” Gaines said. “It will bring people in from the area. We’re excited to be a part of it.”
Soft drinks and popcorn will be available for sale during the concert.
Fabian said Chili’s partnered with St. Jude in 2005. During National Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September, guests throughout the country and in Puerto Rico can visit their local Chili’s to support the lifesaving work of St. Jude, Fabian said.
“In 2006, Chili’s announced plans to donate $50 million over a 10-year period, which once completed will be the largest donation from a single partner campaign in the history of St. Jude,” she said. “In honor of this partnership, a state-of-the-art research and patient care center named the Chili’s Care Center, was completed on the St. Jude campus in November 2007.”
Fabian encouraged people to dine at Chili’s on Sept. 23, when Chili’s will donate all of the night’s profits to St. Jude. To date, Chili’s has donated more than $46 million to St. Jude. Fabian hopes everyone will show up Saturday at The Roxy to continue the fundraising efforts, hear some music and help kids such as Kiley.
If you go
WHAT: Battle of the Bands, with host Chili’s Grill & Bar.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Roxy Theater, downtown Muskogee.
TICKETS: $15, available in advance at Chili’s in Muskogee and Tahlequah, by phone at (918) 453-9701, or at the door.
PROCEEDS: Benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
INFORMATION: (918) 684-6363, email@example.com, www.chilis.com or www.stjude.org.