Burns Benefit Brings Local Together To Support Local Musician’s Wife
by James Coulter
Joey Foley has been living and performing in Polk County for nearly 40 years. He has performed alongside his good friend and fellow musician, Don Burns. So when he learned that Don’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he helped organize a musical fundraiser to support her and her family during their time of need.
Last Saturday, several dozen local bands performed live music at Burns Benefit, hosted at Tanner’s Lakeside in Winter Haven to help raise proceeds for a local cancer patient. Barbecue dinner platters were sold for $10, and raffles were offered for prizes donated by local businesses and organizations.
Proceeds from the benefit went towards the medical expenses and other immediate needs of Diane, wife of local musician, Don Burns. Diane was recently diagnosed with cancer. Overall, the turnout proved to be phenomenal, and showed how much the local community was willing to support someone in their time of need, Foley said.
“We are happy with the way things have turned out,” he said. “It has been busy since the moment we have got started, and the crowd is only growing, and we are only halfway through the event today. So it is turning out to be very successful and exceeding what we figured would happen.”
Foley helped organize the event with Melanie Culpepper Brown, a local salon owner and philanthropist who assists with many fundraisers. Brown has always been a “mover and shaker” in the community, so she was the prime choice to help organize the event.
“We all come together when someone is in need,” he said. “I am just proud to be here. I am blessed to be here. It is not always about taking, it is about giving. We have all been through things in life, and we all had help, and it is good to go back into the community and help others.”
Burns Benefit was hosted at Tanner’s Lakeside, which has hosted many fundraisers organized by Melanie Brown Culpepper, including her upcoming “Fishing For A Heart” tournament on June 12. She had been a longtime friend of Foley, who has helped her with many events. So it was only fitting that she helped him and his friend.
“Joey has always had me, and I have had him, we help each other in this town, because that is what it is about: it is helping and supporting each other,” she said. “I don’t even know [Diane], and I am here today. I am here to support them because they were there to support me and that is what it is all about.”
Judy and Jim Taylor also assisted with the event that day. Both are good friends of Brown and Foley. Both had assisted with a similar fundraiser for their grandson, Xander, who passed away three years ago from cancer. Their event, which was also hosted by Melanie, was hosted several days after he passed out of loving memory for him.
Even in the light of her grandson’s passing, Judy was proud to know that the community stood by her in her time of need, so she was more than willing to help another member in the community going through similar tough times.
“Polk County really comes together in a crisis,” she said. “Polk County is just awesome. That is why we are #1 in the nation. People are moving here because they hear about us. They hear about what the community does to help other people in their community. I just love Polk County.”