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BlackHawk’s Cancer Center support reaches milestone

Feb. 12, 2015, 8:35 AM

Members of the country music group BlackHawk recently performed for patients in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Chemotherapy Infusion Clinic. Here patient Mark Ridner, left, poses with BlackHawk’s Henry Paul, Dave Robbins and Randy Threet. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Country music group BlackHawk recently presented a check for $20,000 to Harold (Hal) Moses, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director emeritus of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), in support of cancer research.

Since 2006, the group has raised and donated $100,000 to VICC in remembrance of one of the original members of the multi-platinum band, Van Stephenson, who was diagnosed with melanoma in 1999 and died from the disease in 2001. Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer.

In Stephenson’s memory, his BlackHawk colleagues launched the Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund to support cancer research at VICC. The original band members, Henry Paul, guitarist and lead singer, and Dave Robbins, keyboardist and vocalist, along with current guitarist and vocalist Randy Threet, hold fundraising events and solicit donations from the audience during their performances.

“The funds that BlackHawk has raised and donated have made a real difference in our ability to accelerate research and provide better treatments for patients with malignant melanoma,” said Moses, director of the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories at VICC.

While about 85 percent of patients with early stage melanoma are cured, the disease still kills nearly 10,000 people in the United States every year.

“There were no advances in treatment for melanoma for nearly three decades, but in the past 10 years VICC investigators have helped lead clinical trials of new targeted therapies and we are currently working on immunotherapy that shows promise of achieving cures,” said Moses.

The recent clinical trials have already resulted in FDA approval of new targeted therapies and immunotherapy.

BlackHawk is currently touring and recently released a new CD, “Greatest Hits & More.” Some of the band’s best known songs include the No. 1 hit “Every Once In A While,” and Top 10 single “Goodbye Says It All.”

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