Domus Pacis Family Concert Series presents Under a Blood Red Sky in Breckenridge
IF YOU GO
What: Domus Pacis Family Concert Series with Under a Blood Red Sky
When: Saturday, Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge
Cost: $30-$45, buy tickets online at the Riverwalk Center website
More information: To learn more about Domus Pacis, go to domuspacis.org
To learn more about Love Hope Strength Foundation, go to lovehopestrength.org
There have been four matches made so far at Billy Bono’s shows — not the kind of stare into each other’s eyes during “Two Hearts Beat As One” — these are potentially life-saving matches between a bone marrow donor and a cancer patient. Bono has been working with the Love Hope Strength Foundation for about two years now, with the nonprofit sending volunteers to his concerts to ask fans to get on the donor registry.
“What’s cool about the organization is they track where they sign up,” said Bono — aka Billy Bunting — lead singer of Under a Blood Red Sky, a U2 tribute band. “It’s really neat for me to see that I’m able to provide that kind of experience.”
Under a Blood Red Sky will perform at the Riverwalk Center on Saturday, Nov. 28, with proceeds benefitting local nonprofit Domus Pacis Family Respite, which provides a weeklong stay and activities for cancer patients and their families in Summit County. The Love Hope Strength Foundation will be onsite as well to help sign people up for the International Bone Marrow Registry.
“I think it’s a nice combination for what we do, and for what they do, and then having the concert itself,” said Vince White-Petteruti, one of the founders and board members with Domus Pacis.
GET ON THE LIST
The Love Hope Strength Foundation has been hosting donor drives at concerts and festivals since 2008, encouraging fans between the ages of 18-55 at the shows to “get on the list.” All it takes to sign up is a quick cheek swab — it only takes about 4 minutes total to sign and swab, and registrants stay on the list until they are 61 years old.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” said Katie Sullivan Poppert, vice president of programs for Love Hope Strength. “Once people sign up for the registry, they stay on that list until they are 61, so they have many, many years they could match somebody, because unfortunately every single day new people are diagnosed. So it matches them against new people as well. So at one show, matches could be made 20 years from now.”
The odds of being a match when you sign up are one in 500, so although a match isn’t common, the organization has had a total of 2,056 matches since its inception, with 129,000 people added to the registry. For 2015, it will have registered close to 37,000, with almost 1,000 matches. But those added to the list continue to be potential donors for years to come.
“It’s not just that you’re saving someone’s life — you are the only one that can save them — so that’s what’s so cool about bone marrow transplant is it’s such a specific DNA-based match that a lot of the times these donors are it for that patient, and without them they wouldn’t make it,” she said. “It’s hugely powerful — it’s one of the best ways to give back in our society.”
The cheek swab is another piece that has revolutionized the bone marrow registry, Poppert said.
“They used to take blood samples, so you’d have to go to a lab, or have medical people at the table,” she said. “Now, it’s literally just these big tall Q-tips that you swirl around your cheeks for about 20 seconds and get those nice buccal cells for the DNA sample that we send in, and that’s what matches you against those patients.”
Poppert, who is also a bone marrow transplant and oncology nurse, spent just over a decade treating patients that needed these matches. She said people have no idea how easy it is to donate cells if you are lucky enough to match. She hears a lot from people that bone marrow donation sounds incredibly painful.
“If you haven’t been hit by it, most people hear bone marrow transplant and they make that face — ‘oh god, that’s horrible, that sounds so painful,’” she said. “That’s always what we get. What they don’t understand is 80 percent of the time we can get those cells peripherally, so through your blood stream, somewhat similar to a blood donation. It does involve a small injection leading up to that, of a protein that’s already found in your body, and what that does is it boosts the cells in your marrow to the point that they spill out in your blood stream, and that’s how we can collect them that way now.”
The procedure only takes about four hours.
“It certainly isn’t this excruciating experience,” she said. “It’s a needle in one arm and a return IV in the other, and you hang out and save somebody’s life.”
About 20 percent of the time, the donations do still need to go through the pelvis, Poppert said, which is outpatient as well. Donors are put under anesthesia, and two hollow needles are used to extract the amount of marrow needed. Donors wake up and walk out the same day.
“You feel like you fell off your snowboard — but nothing worse than you do to yourself recreationally,” Poppert said.
Donors only miss a day or two of work or school if doing it that way. This route is usually only used for small children, however, leukemia patients around 6 months to about 5 years old, as they do better getting cells from the source, as it is easier for them to assimilate the marrow when it’s from the marrow.
Love Hope Strength is based in Denver, but it’s an international foundation, as they also do drives in the UK. The organization has had a residency at Red Rocks for four years now, Poppert said.
“We did 72 shows at Red Rocks this last summer,” she said. “We are definitely Colorado proud.”
UNDER A BLOOD RED SKY
Previous Domus Pacis Family Concert Series shows have included Beatles, Eagles and John Denver tributes, White-Petteruti said. This is a new genre for the series, and White-Petteruti said he was really impressed with Under a Blood Red Sky when he saw them in Denver. He hopes to draw a new crowd to the show, which he hopes will in turn lead more people to learning about the Domus Pacis mission and bring in more volunteers. The organization runs off volunteers that donate their time, homes and other contributions to help bring families suffering from cancer to the area for a week away to spend time together.
Under a Blood Red Sky is a Colorado band, having gained fame after re-creating the U2 Red Rocks concert at the venue. This year is the band’s 10-year anniversary together, and lead man Billy Bono’s passion for the music they play, along with their home state, is evident in his voice as he talks.
“I’ll never leave Colorado, it’s in my heart now.” He said. “I love it here — it’s magic man. I can’t believe what I get to look at every day. … It’s been 25 years and I’m still not numb to it.”
The band has been working with Love Hope Strength for about two years now, after Bono himself went through thyroid cancer — a tumor in his throat threatened his singing career. His two favorite bands growing up were U2 and The Alarm, and now he gets to be connected to the two bands in different ways. Mike Peters, lead singer of The Alarm and cancer survivor, co-founded Love Hope Strength. These days, the nonprofit sets up booths at festivals such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, and also work with a couple dozen artists, such as Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphy, Robert Plant and Shakey Graves.
Bono is excited to do the concert for Domus Pacis because of his own cancer journey and after losing his mother to cancer.
“I love what it does for families, personally, what I’ve read about it and I’m just glad that we can help bring the Love Hope Strength with it too, because both are really important,” he said. “And what he does with the families, giving them a safe place to be and to deal with that is when it happens to you is really special, in my eyes, where they can all be together. It is a family thing, when it happens to someone it happens to all of them.”
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