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August 2002 Volume 5, Issue 2:
Multiple Musicians Against Multiple Myeloma
By The Unknown Patient

Top row: Jason Bergman, Roxanne Bergman, Leo Huppert, Russell Seeger, Lee Grayson, Don Olsen, Naomi Margolin, Maag Stanley, Angela Ford. Bottom row: Suzanne Mueller, Drew Olsen, Peter Aronoff.

There are lots of very special people all over the world fighting myeloma. Each brings to this fight their own special talents and personality. One such special person is Lee Grayson, a musician by trade. Lee is an incredibly talented man with a heart of gold. Time and time again, Lee has gone beyond his personal battle with myeloma to help the entire patient community. Once again, Lee has stepped forward to make a difference with Multiple Musicians Against Multiple Myeloma, a joyous and innovative fundraising event that was the brainchild of Lee and his friend and fellow musician, Naomi Margolin. Lee and Naomi’s band, Bees Neez, performs regularly at Tupelo Honey, a beautiful club tucked away in a corner of the Long Island village of Sea Cliff. Having watched Lee fighting myeloma for the past few years, the owners of the club graciously agreed to host a fundraising event for multiple myeloma and managed to secure the necessary permissions from the village of Sea Cliff. Lee and Naomi lined up a veritable army of bands, all of whom donated their services to perform at the event. Among the bands perfoming were Jason ’n Grayson, Zen Trio, Sean Grace, Kathy Kreger Band, Rose Gunter and the Hysterical Angels, Russel Sieger, Mark Newman, The Jewish Beatles, Bees Neez, Maag Stanley, Gretchen Cryer, and Funk Filharmonik.

Naomi Margolin adds her voice to the festivities

Add to all this good music a large crowd of fellow musicians and friends, myeloma patients and caregivers, and curious passers-by, and you’ve got a really fun day ahead. Attendees were given buttons emblazoned with a sentiment we’ve all shared at some point, “Myeloma Sucks,” setting a bit of an irreverent tone. Inside, the mood was infectious, with good music and good people in abundance. Lee, Naomi, and the other performers sang, danced, and played their hearts out, while the crowd sang, clapped, drank, and shmoozed. The music ran the gamut from a nostalgic review of the Beatles era to current pop.

Lee with his doctor, Sundar Jagannath, chief of the Multiple Myeloma Center at the St. Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center

The crowd had many children and there were clowns in attendance to show them the many creatures that could be fashioned out of balloons while their parents were preoccupied with good friends and good music. The bartenders were kept quite busy serving up waters and more potent potables to keep everyone cool and well-hydrated.

Jay Haberman with Carol Bakst and the twins

Between sets, the crowd heard from people who’d helped Lee in his personal battle. Dr. Sundar Jagannath attended with his family and spoke to the group about current research in myeloma and the hope that it holds for the future. Carol Bakst, a fellow myeloma patient and transplant veteran, came with her new twin grandchildren and shared some of her experiences with the group. IMFer Michael Katz, who serves on the IMF’s Executive Board and leads the New York support group that Lee attends, spoke about the importance of grass roots fundraising efforts and thanked everyone for stepping forward to make a difference.

The owners of Tupelo Honey, already heroes for donating the use of their beautiful club, pledged donations for every drink purchased during a number of intervals throughout the day. At one point, swept up in the spirit of the event, they began giving away drinks to save time and maximize their donation. They, like most of the crowd, were really thrilled to be able to salute Lee for his courage in battling the disease and moving beyond that battle to help others.

Kelly Martinsen of Celgene Corporation joins the celebration.

The flyer for the event said that it would start at 3pm and go on Till Theres A Cure. The festivities continued that day until just past midnight, when, though there was not yet a cure, there was a clear need to close up shop to avoid a clash with the village of Sea Cliff. Undaunted, Lee and Naomi turned their regular performance the next evening at Tupelo Honey into an extension of the prior day’s fundraiser, receiving an enthusiastic and generous response.

Lee and Naomi are wonderful examples of people who turn a bad situation into something very positive and remind us how wonderful people can be. When Lee had his stem cell transplant last fall, they made quite an impression at the hospital, shuttling from room to room playing the guitar and singing for fellow patients and caregivers. Lee volunteers for the IMF, calling newly-diagnosed patients and making sure they’ve got what they need and have all of their questions answered. Their devotion to helping others, particularly in the face of the challenges presented by myeloma, is exemplary.

At a recent Patient & Family seminar, Lee received the IMF Francesca Thompson Outstanding Service Award. Dr. Thompson, an orthopedic surgeon diagnosed with multiple myeloma, was an early benefactor to the IMF. She underwrote the hotline, donated her time as a faculty member at Patient & Family seminars, and provided counsel to the many patients and caregivers who sought her advice. Lee and Naomi follow in her worthy footsteps by giving of themselves to help win the battle against myeloma. Bravo Lee and Naomi!

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