Jay Boland ’98 and Arthur Mroczek ’98 put on a fundraising concert to raise awareness about childhood cancer
By John Walsh
Watching a video about a 5-year-old Pennsylvania girl who died from cancer made Jay Boland ’98 cry. It also sparked him to put together a fundraising concert to help raise awareness of childhood cancer. He did so with the help of his JCU roommate, Arthur Mroczek ’98, the national marketing director for Live Nation Los Angeles.
The video Boland viewed was about Gabriella Vogel, who died from a rare form of brain cancer in September 2011. Her parents, John and Carolynn Vogel, formed The Get Well Gabby Foundation in her honor and memory. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to fund research and raise awareness for childhood cancer and assist families that have been given such devastating news.
“I wanted to do something for the Gabby Foundation, so I reached out to the Vogels out of the blue,” says Boland, a chartered financial analyst who’s managing director of the Earnings Scout, a provider of corporate earnings trend analysis. “I wanted to leverage my passion and knowledge of music and finance for a worthy cause, but I wanted to start small.”
That something was the first Believe in a Cure Concert, which took place in Kent, Ohio, in February 2012 and featured locals bands. But ideally, Boland – who sings and plays guitar in a band called Jay Patrick Boland & The Members Only Band – wanted to do something bigger. So he contacted the manager of the rock band Gin Blossoms, which are a fit for a fundraising concert because it sold four million albums and had several top 10 hits. The band agreed to play what would become the second Believe in a Cure Concert, which took place Sept. 13, 2013 at the legendary Cleveland Agora Theatre and Ballroom. (An aside: Boland is raising $2.5 million of private equity to fund a soundtrack and produce a movie about the Agora intended to be released for the Agora’s 50th anniversary in 2016.)
Boland, who earned an MBA from Kent State University, always wanted to be in the promotions business. In fact, he started his own promotions company in 2004 to help pay for his MBA. He promoted smaller, national acts but also promoted events for cast members of the Real World, Miami Ink, and some of the guys in Jackass, such as the late Ryan Dunn and Don Vito and Kat Von Dee. He wanted to finance the Believe in a Cure Concert himself in case it flopped.
“I didn’t want such a thing to effect the foundation,” he says. “But I needed help. That’s when I turned to my best friend in college, Art Mroczek, who publicizes the Cirque du Soleil events throughout North America. The goal was to raise awareness. Art showed me the tricks; we talked every night; and he flew out for the event.”
Mroczek, who hadn’t talked to Boland in about 10 years, listen to his ideas and tried to help Boland make the event profitable.
“When you’re self funded, it’s a challenge because everything comes out of one bucket,” Mroczek says. “I was skeptical and surprised Jay did this on his own. You need to have the right connections. Jay communicated well and got people to help in ways I haven’t seen before.”
Mroczek help Boland present the concert to make sure it didn’t come across as a discounted event partly by including merchandising, autographs, and T-shirts. They also developed a promotional schedule. Mroczek has good friends, including local radio personalities Rover and Duji, who helped promote the event.
The concert lineup also included singer/songwriter/guitarist Pat McGee; Jay Patrick Boland & The Members Only Band; The Allen ILG Band; and Matthew Knabe, the former lead singer of Ligion. The concert, which was appropriate for ages, included additional fundraising activities. All profits from the ticket sales went toward the Get Well Gabby Foundation. The goal the first year was to raise awareness for the foundation and not necessarily money.
“I learned childhood cancer is underfunded because it’s rare,” says Boland, who sings and plays guitar. “DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), which Gabby had, is a rare form of brain cancer with a thee-to-nine-month life expectancy. If childhood cancer gets more attention, maybe it will get more funding.”
On average, 46 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer every day, and seven children will succumb to their disease, according to 46 Mommas, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer.
“We reached more than two million people via radio, TV, newspapers via news stories and advertising,” Boland says. “It was stressful yet fun.” JCU