Bon Jovi, Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Wilson and Andrea Bocelli, among others, will perform in various New York City venues throughout 2008 as part of the inaugural Stand Up For A Cure concert series, designed to raise funds and awareness for lung cancer research at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
In the week leading up to the U.S. leg of its Lost Highway world tour, Bon Jovi will launch the series with a sold-out concert on Feb. 12 at the 3,500-capacity Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The intimate show will be dedicated to Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora's father, Adam Sambora, who received care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering before passing last year from cancer.
"Cancer is relentless; you can't stop it," Sambora tells Billboard.biz. "Hopefully this money will help find answers."
The upcoming benefit concert is being sponsored by CityView Racquet Club, with AEG Live donating its time to handle production. Sambora will open the show with a 30-minute solo set. The money raised from the event will fund three mobile hospice units for low-income neighborhoods in New York. The units will be named after Sambora's father.
Stand Up For A Cure, a nonprofit organization comprising nurses, physicians and family members, hopes to "pull off between five and eight shows this year," says the organization's executive producer, Jordan Belkin, a registered oncology nurse who formerly worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "It's one of the great mediums we have to bring people out and get them excited, and at the same time raise money," Belkin tells Billboard.biz.
Along with Bon Jovi, confirmed Stand Up For A Cure concerts in 2008 include a stand-up performance from Seinfeld on June 2 at the 5,600-seat WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, a concert with Wilson and special guests at the Hammerstein Ballroom on July 11, and a Bocelli performance set for a to-be-determined date in December.
Belkin is reaching out to additional artists, and hopes to create "an experience as opposed to a straightforward concert," mentioning the possibility of an intimate Bocelli performance with a sit-down dinner at a venue such as New York's Cipriani.
A limited quantity of tickets for future benefit shows will be available to the public through Stand Up For A Cure's Web site , and can also be purchased by calling 1-800-NY Shows. The nonprofit plans to roll out a series of public service announcements on New York radio stations, along with paid print advertisements, according to Belkin.
In addition to concert performances, each event will feature a red carpet, a program journal containing facts about lung cancer and memory pages and a VIP reception.
Belkin hopes the concert series will not only raise money for cancer research but also awareness for what he calls a "severely under-funded" disease.
"It's the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the world," he explains. "We need to get the message out and get money into the programs that are offering a potential cure for treatment. By groups like Bon Jovi donating their time and support to this cause, I think we're getting closer to doing so."