Chords for a cause benefits women and children’s hospital

by Jenny Yarborough
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Courtesy photo

Country music band Gloriana, will collaborate with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra to benefit Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital and New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Smile Campaign during Chords for a Cause on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Kenan Auditorium.


Gloriana performs Saturday, Nov. 5

If you haven’t already heard the story of how the annual Chords for a Cause charity fundraising concerts began, founder and New Hanover Regional Medical Center cardiologist Damian Brezinski, M.D. will tell you of a time about three years ago when in the wee hours of the morning three men—singer/songwriter Edwin McCain, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, and the good doctor—drank Red Bull and began a powerful discussion which revolved around music.

From there, the cardiologist’s idea to raise funds to help the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation purchase a mobile pediatric intensive care unit for southeastern North Carolina would begin with friend and Grammy-award-winning musician McCain along with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, led by guest conductor Rudy Schlagel, of the Atlanta Symphony, who scored the pop music for a one-of-a-kind benefit.

"That was a blast," Brezinski recalled.

The following year, Brezinski invited Sister Hazel to do the same. That year the funding would go toward creating a Mission Ready project which, to this day, still ships medical supplies and equipment to Africa and Haiti.

This year, the cardiologist said, has been one of the best and that’s because the cause is one close to his heart.

"I have four children," he began. "And we have two with seizure disorders and we are frequent flyers of the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s center. We’ve lived everywhere and this is one of the most wonderful hospitals I’ve ever seen."

And Brezinski has seen plenty of them.

"I lost a brother at a children’s hospital," he furthered, "and remember going to those dank, dreary hospitals in Pennsylvania."

Brezinski feels lucky his children don’t have to spend their days that way.

When the decision was made to bring award-winning country music band Gloriana, who will collaborate again with the orchestra to benefit Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the NHRMC Smile Campaign, Brezinski said, it was easy to get started.

The cutting of a check from the show’s proceeds is but one portion of what Chords for a Cause will ultimately give to the women’s and children’s hospital. Brezinski said he is excited to launch a wish book, which he said could be compared to a Brookstone catalogue.

"It is compiled by all of the people who run Betty H. Cameron, who are in the trenches taking care of these kids everyday and the stuff that they really, really, really need," Brezinski explained. "And for those people who can’t donate $1,000 or even $500, this breaks it down into little donations—$25, $50 and $100 donations—that will help."

Brezinski said it is surprising how many expecting parents come to the hospital in labor who simply can’t afford to purchase a car seat to take their newborn home.

"So $100 will get you a car seat," he said. "Twenty-five will get you Leapfrog games, which if you’ve got kids are incredible, if you’ve got a kid in the hospital for a week just passing the time," Brezinski said.

Other wish list items are hospital approved breast milk warmers. He said, "I can’t fix that you can’t get a breast milk warmer because it costs $1,000 a pop. But I can get 1,000 people in a room to listen to Gloriana and say, ‘Hey, if 20 of you donate to this we’ll get a couple.’"

Brezinski said it is important to realize that while he is the founder, the show would not go on without a large, diverse group of energized people who work countless hours behind the scenes to make things happen. And all together, the volunteers, donors and those who simply show up for the music can make a difference.

"We always give people a very good return on their dollar," Brezinski said. "In both, they get a very entertaining show and they get to say that, ‘Hey, I helped with this project.’"

Gloriana, Schlagel and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra will perform together during what will more than likely be a sold out show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Kenan Auditorium. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.chordsforacause.com.

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