By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
With the support of the community, Eddie and Norma Kennedy will honor the memory of their daughter, Sara Elizabeth, during the ninth annual SaraCare Celebration beginning 6 p.m. Friday at Union Church, Prospect Street in Berea.
Featuring free live music, a $5 spaghetti supper and raffle, the event raises money to benefit young cancer patients and their families.
Sara passed away March 2005 at age 18 after a 10-month battle with a rare form of cancer.
Since her passing, the SaraCare fund has provided more than $100,000 worth of meals, gas, motel stays, medicine co-pays, televisions, video game systems and items that “make life better that day for a child and their family,” Eddie said.
A lineup of several local musicians as well as some friends of the Kennedys’ from Nashville, will provide an evening of live music following the spaghetti supper.
At 12:30 p.m. Friday on Channel 27, songwriter Doug Johnson will sing “Skin” — unofficially named “Sarabeth” after the song’s young heroine, whose battle with cancer has striking parallels with Sara’s.
The song was made famous by the award-winning country group Rascal Flatts, and after someone pointed out the similarities in the stories, the Kennedys made contact with Johnson in Nashville.
The Kennedys, Johnson and his wife Lisa became fast friends, and the songwriter comes back each year to sing his song for SaraCare.
Years later, that same song connected the Kennedys to a Hollywood producer who launched Sara’s story into the national spotlight through a segment on his VH1 reality show “Couple’s Therapy,” which aired November 2012.
Film and television actor Muse Watson will be a special guest Friday, and dinner for two with Watson at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant will be one of the raffle items.
A gift basket of merchandise from the CBS television show NCIS, on which Watson stars, will be up for raffle as well.
Other raffle items include a print of artist Mitchell Tolle’s “Cats” signed by University of Kentucky men’s basketball Coach John Calipari; a basketball signed by UK women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell; Cincinnati Reds ticket packages, and a dulcimer hand-crafted by Berea woodworker Warren May.
The Kennedys also will reveal at the celebration a 24-by-30-inch oil painting of their daughter by local artist Brian Wylie, Norma said.
The portrait was inspired by a photo Eddie took of Sara. For the painting, she was repositioned to look like she was glancing over her shoulder, “as if she was looking back one last time,” Wylie said.
Painted shadows and the way the light plays on her face and hair adds a duality to the portrait, he said. In one light, you can see Sara’s hair drawn back in a ponytail, while at another glance, it portrays her post-chemotherapy treatments, with no hair.
Students at Glenn Marshall Elementary raised money last week to donate to SaraCare as one of the school’s student-led community-service projects this year.
During the week, students sold “bunny grams,” had “pay $1 to wear a hat” day, and organized two sock hops after school, said Lisa Scully, library media specialist at GME.
Several students and teachers volunteered to help, she said, and raised $895.
For details on SaraCare, visit saracare.org or on Facebook.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.