Two twin brothers from Langley hope to generate $300,000 Saturday, when they host their annual cancer-related music fundraiser in Cloverdale.
Jamie and Chris Ruscheinsksi hope to be surrounded by 4,000 to 6,000 of their closest friends for the fourth consecutive Gone Country: Here for the Cure is happening July 23 at the Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre.
Asked why people should attend, Jamie pondered the question for only a moment, then replied: “For a festival, our atmosphere can’t really be topped. Everyone is in a great mood because we’re all there for the right reasons [fighting cancer]. Its very safe, as we make it very understood that the cowboy attitude gets checked at the door. I always encourage people to come and enjoy a beverage with us, since every penny of proceeds goes towards fighting cancer.”
The 35-year-old Ruscheinski twins began their campaign to fight cancer after their mother passed away and the loss of their close friend Shaun Gauthier to cancer five years ago.
To date the twins have raised more than $1.5 million for cancer-related causes.
They have purchased research and early-detection equipment for the BC Cancer Foundation, renovated part of the Easter Seal House in Vancouver, donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, BC Children’s Hospital, and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver.
“We’ve even set up a scholarship fund at UBC in honour of our friend, Shaun Gauthier, that will help a student studying oncology,” Jamie noted.
Last year’s fundraiser generated a “cool” $275,000 for cancer-related initiatives.
“My dumb brother always likes to keep raising the bar every year, so he set the goal at $300,000,” Jamie said, quickly confirming that he, too, is convinced they’ll meet it.
Money from this year’s event will go to Canuck’s Place Children’s Hospice in Abbotsford.
“I went on a tour there a few months back, and it’s an amazing place that helps families navigate an incredibly hard time,” he explained.
He encouraged people to attend the show, even if they are not music fans.
“Regardless if you like country music, come out to the event,” Jamie said, extending an invite to friends new and old. “You won’t find a better vibe at a festival than this. Everyone is happy and supportive, giving out hugs and high fives to our volunteers. We have a large custom chalkboard in the middle of the event where people can write a message to cancer. Last year, some young woman wrote, “leave my Mom alone!” with tears rolling down her face. People noticed this and quickly jumped up to give her hug, them it turned into a giant 30-person hug within seconds. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s not always about how much money we raise. It’s about helping people through an emotionally tough time.”
Hoping for good weather
Jamie said he’s been living on his phone’s weather app, just hoping and wishing for sunshine.
“We know we’ll get a large turnout, if it’s beautiful out,” he said. “More people equals more money raised, and that’s always important. Really though, we get a ton of private messages throughout the year from people battling cancer, and its heartbreaking.”
They’ve set up a special ticket that helps raise money directly for the families in the community fighting cancer.
“We set them up with as many tickets as they can sell, they bring us back the money, and we cut the family a cheque that will help them through their fight,” Jamie explained. “This year, over $15,000 will be going back out to our local community to families battling cancer. We remember how fast the bills add up when our mom couldn’t work anymore. You shouldn’t have to deal with financial stress when you’re going through such a hard time.”
Always looking to change and improve their Gone Country show, this year the twins have added a second stage, redesigned the VIP section, and brought in different, large inflatables for the games area.
“We always have a few tricks up our sleeve for the evening, as well,” Jamie said.
As for the musical component of this show, Langley’s own Karen Lee Batten, and sibling act Robyn & Ryleigh are going to be on stage Saturday.
As well, former Langleyite Aaron Pritchett – who recently opened for Garth Brooks and has earned several Juno and Canadian Country Music Awards over the past dozen years – is one of the headliners.
Another big name performer includes High Valley, a country music duo out of Alberta, made up of brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel.
Doors open at 2 p.m.
Show and ticket information is posted at Twinscancerfundraising.com.
“This year, we are hoping to have around 4,000 join us. The more the merrier though, as the city has approved us for 6,000 people. Our bartenders can handle it. We have a dream team of volunteers that work their butts off all night,” Jamie added.