LAKE WYLIE -- All the excitement at the Justin Mychals Child Cancer Benefit meeting Wednesday night left volunteers seeing double. For the first time in its seven-year history, two families will be recipients of the annual fall charity concert and silent auction.
Since beginning the event in 2003 for the late Dakota Gay, a Lake Wylie teen who died in January 2007 following a brain cancer diagnosis, Mychals and his band of volunteers kept the momentum going by selecting an area family each year to benefit from the Sept. 20 event. In recent years, the addition of a yard sale, car wash and walk-a-thon followed the concert and auction, however, Mychals said this year's event will drop the yard sale to focus more on the walk.
Raising tens of thousands of dollars the past several years, and almost $50,000 for 6-year-old Julia Nesbitt of Wesley Chapel, N.C., last year, Mychals' wish to help more than one family each year is coming true.
"The volunteers think there's no way this side of creation we can have two families with this economy, and we thought that ourselves for a while," Mychals said Wednesday before the announcement.
"But our board looked at it and we decided to bite the bullet and move on up."
While reaching out in recent years to neighboring communities in North Carolina and farther south in York County, the benefit found families closer to its Lake Wylie roots. Mackenzie DeCuir, 16 months, is the daughter of Michael and Julie DeCuir of York and also the recipient of several Clover School District fundraisers this year, beginning with Griggs Road Elementary School, where Julie teaches.
"We were very surprised about it and just very honored," Julie DeCuir said of being selected for the Justin Mychals event. "It's bad to say, but I've lived in this community all these years, and I didn't know about the event. I don't know where I am in September; I guess at football games."
Kathy Rhinehart of Rock Hill, whose daughter Shalazia was born with a chromosome disorder and at age 3 developed liver cancer, also will benefit from the 2009 event. Efforts to obtain comment from Rhinehart by press time Monday were unsuccessful.
Volunteers and donations of money and auction items are being accepted. The Sept. 20 concert and silent auction will be held on the lawn between T-Bones on the Lake and Buster Boyd Access.
"We're giving the credit of being able to do this to the community," Mychals said. "If it weren't for people supporting this and wanting to see this happen, we wouldn' be able to go to two.
"This is just a wonderful community to be a part of," he said.
For more information, visit justinmychals.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.