Benefit concert for Kaleb Houle, 13, will go on after he succumbed to cancer

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Published: November 13, 2018, The Windsor Star (Trevor Wilhelm)

A fundraising rock concert to benefit a young boy battling Stage 4 cancer will continue in his honour Friday after he died over the weekend in a London hospital.

The Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows, who organized the event with Liuna 625, has already helped raise a staggering $50,000 through online fundraising for the family of Kaleb Houle.

“The focus of the event has changed,” said Burrows. “We were really looking to having much more of the family present, and to encourage Kaleb’s fight. We’ve changed it more into a celebration of life.”

Kaleb Houle, 13, died around 12:30 a.m. Saturday after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer three times since 2014.

He was first diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a blood cancer that’s rare in kids, in February 2014. He went into remission after three months of chemotherapy in London. But it returned in December of 2016.

The following May, he received an autologous stem-cell transplant, which involves using the patient’s own stem cells. After that, he seemed to be recovering. But the symptoms returned a year after the transplant.

When Burrows heard of Kaleb’s courageous battle, he decided raise money to allow the boy’s family to take time off work and be at his side. Burrows joined forces with Liuna 625 to host Rockin’ for Kaleb’s Kourage on Friday. It’s an all ages music show at RockStar Music Hall on Central Avenue. There will also be games and raffle prizes.

Doors were originally set for 6 p.m. But it’s been changed to 5 p.m. after the children’s classic rock group Leave Those Kids Alone expressed interest in performing.

“What better fit to have kids play at a kid’s event,” said Burrows.

Burrows said he’s hoping for another $20,000 on Friday on top of the $50,000 already raised.

“I get greedy when it comes to charity,” said Burrows. “With everyone’s help, we’ve got this far. I think $70,000 overall is a good safe number to guarantee. But I’m hoping for even more.”

Bill Moreland, assistant business manager for Liuna 625, said it’s important the fundraiser go on because Kaleb’s family still needs the help.

“The burden is still there, the financial burden,” he said. “This just might ease things a little bit for them and they can breath a little bit and grieve properly without worrying about all the extra bills that have built up.”

No one in Kaleb’s family works with Liuna, but Moreland said they still rallied behind the cause after Burrows brought it to them.

“Our members have always felt that we have to give back to the community,” he said. “And when you see a heartbreaking story like this, you’ve got to feel for the family. That’s one of the things Liuna 625 has always done. Get behind families, get behind charities. We want to help.”

For more information or to donate, go to the Kaleb’s Kourage Facebook page.