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Knollwood’s Pinktober event draws music, donations for breast cancer treatment

Local indie rock band BLOOMR perform at the Pink & Blues Music Foundation walk-through concert earlier this month in Knollwood.
Local indie rock band BLOOMR perform at the Pink & Blues Music Foundation walk-through concert earlier this month in Knollwood. (David Riley)

It’s Pinktober again — the month when most everyone rolls out rose-colored everything in recognition of those affected by breast cancer.

Awareness only does so much, however. Investing in research and treatment is where it’s at when it comes to making a difference. Knollwood resident David Riley knows that quite well.

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Last year, David’s wife, Marlene, was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through successful treatment at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. David was inspired to channel his musical passions and local connections into a way to give back to the institutions that helped save his soulmate.

“Right before I was diagnosed, we took a road trip to Memphis and the Delta region,” Marlene Riley said. “The music, people and culture resonated with Dave. We’ve looked out for each other since junior high, so I knew he was going to respond in some way.”

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And so, the Pink & Blues Music Foundation came to be. “I established this foundation to raise money for Towson’s two breast cancer centers,” David Riley said. “The foundation is about surviving, and about fighting back. Sometimes you need to fight with anything you can pick up, even if it’s just a guitar and a song.”

The Pink & Blues Music Foundation held a walk-through concert event in Knollwood on Oct. 10 to celebrate cancer survivors and thrivers, and to raise awareness and encourage donations to support patient care at Towson’s breast cancer centers at GBMC and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

After successful events in June and August, the third installment of the outdoor musical series drew an estimated 300 people. Attendees respectfully followed guidelines for masking and distancing as they strolled the streets and enjoyed the jams.

The Walk Among the Music III: Pink & Blues Music Foundation Concert included a diverse lineup of local jazz, blues, and rock: Bloomr; 6x4 Jazz Duo; Creative Differences; Henry Cyr; Captain Hustle; MELo Jazz Band with Ginna Barilone; Nico Sarbanes Trio; Jordan Gillis; Déjà vu; and Amber August and John Tyler.

The musicians were hosted on stages in yards and driveways around the neighborhood. There were food service options from Kona Ice, Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon and Kristen’s Cotton Candy. The event was also a chance to support Knollwood’s annual coat drive (53 donated) and the Towson High School Sports Boosters ($1,000 earned).

You can help, too, by donating to the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Center at GBMC online at gbmc.org/donate, or the Geraldine G. Schultz Endowment for Breast Cancer Survivors at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center Breast Cancer Institute, at umms.org/sjmc/giving/donation-form. Reference Pink & Blues Music Foundation as inspiration for your donation, if you are so inclined.

“It’s been a very long year, and this foundation has kept me focused to make sure everything can work to a possible greater good. But it’s a learning process, and in the middle of a pandemic, it is hard to plan events,” David Riley said.

The original ticketed event that was slated for October has been moved to April at the historic Elks Lodge in East Towson. It will feature the debut performance of Ginna Barilone’s “Lady Sings The Pink & Blues: A Billie Holiday Tribute.”

The foundation also is working with local and national singer/songwriters to donate songs for an online collection, with proceeds from downloads going to Towson’s breast cancer treatment centers. For more information, you can message David Riley through Facebook.

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