Coming off of two consecutive years of record breaking fundraising ($40K in 2018 and $54K in 2019) organizers of the 14th Annual Drum Marathon with Jeff Burrows raised an impressive $30,885 despite a global pandemic. The funds will benefit six local charities that are leaders in mental health and strive to create positive change for challenged communities and disadvantaged individuals.The announcement was made on Sept. 23 during a special check presentation held at the LiUNA 625 office.
The charities that benefitted include House of Sophrosyne, Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services, Harmony in Action, In Honour of The Ones We Love, Canadian Mental Health Association, and St. Clair College Scholarship Fund. Liuna 625, presenting sponsor of the event, distributed the funds through their organization’s fundraising branch, Champions For Change. Representing LiUNA 625 were Jeff Burrows, Community Relations Director, Rob Petroni, Business Manager and William (Bill) Moreland, Secretary Treasurer.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, almost being cancelled, rescheduling to later dates several times and changes to the format, the drum marathon finally came together.
Burrows was excited to announce the event back in January but says, “soon after everything fell apart,” because of the pandemic. He sent out notifications that the drum marathon was cancelled. However, Burrows says, “Kosta from Good Time Charly (where the event has been held for the past several years) reached out to me and said, ‘look if there is a way to do it then you are perfectly welcome to do it.’” Burrows then spoke with Kelly Blais from Media Street Productions, “she had a handle on how many people were allowed (to gather) and what she could do.”
The event, dubbed “Together Alone,” ended up being video taped over a two day period. It was also slashed from 24 hours to 12 hours, making it the “Half Drum Marathon.” Burrows usually spends 24 hours performing one hour at a time with mainly local and regional musicians and bands. This year, keeping social distancing in mind, Jeff performed as a duo with one musician at a time, six feet apart, each hour. Only one act was allowed into Good Time Charly at a time and the public was not able to attend.
On June 20, the event was safely enjoyed online when it was streamed onto the Liuna Bluesfest Windsor YouTube page as part of their YUNITY Front Porch Party concert series They have been delivering exciting streaming entertainment through the concert series every week since May 2.
The online concert series was created to entertain and connect with fans during the initial COVID-19 lockdown when their daily routines were disrupted. It was also meant to pay tribute to all front-line healthcare professionals, essential workers, and mental health professionals helping us fight the pandemic. Burrows says funding for the concert series is limited and people are settling into their “new normal” routines, so eventually the entertainment will come to an end. However, he did mention that the Bluesfest Windsor YouTube platform will be used for an exciting streaming concert featuring the Leave Those Kids Alone Band on Oct. 31. It will be a fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association and Maryvale in support of teen mental health initiatives. A portion of funds will be raised by giving businesses interested in supporting the event the opportunity to sponsor a portion of the video.
Sponsoring portions of the video stream is partly what allowed this year’s Half Drum Marathon to raise so much money considering revenue wasn’t generated from the public paying admission or buying raffle tickets. Burrows said moving forward most events and projects LiUNA puts together will include an online video component. “What the Drum Marathon did was give us the idea of selling sponsorships per song or per artist or per hour,” explained Burrows. “It added up to another $11,000 total which you can’t do without having that video format.”
Additional funds were raised by encouraging the public to make online donations. Anyone who donated $50 or more received a beautiful Half Drum Marathon T-Shirt, donated by D&R Apparel.
Burrows knew he would fall short of his initial goal of raising $10K per charity this year. “Without having a live event and losing a lot of our sponsors, because they also found themselves in a lot of trouble this year, I was hoping for at least $3,500 and we killed it.” Ultimately, the Half Drum Marathon raised a much needed $5,147.50 for each charity.
The full Half Drum Marathon (now online) and upcoming Leave Those Kids Alone concert (set for Oct. 31) can be viewed on the Bluesfest Windsor YouTube channel. This Sat. Oct. 3, charming local singer songwriter Tara Watts will stream at 8pm. To view the videos visit https://www.youtube.com/user/BluesFestWindsor