Looney’s Pub felt a bit more like the set of “American Idol” Thursday night as locals took the stage to belt out their favorite tunes in support of the local charity Casey Cares.
Hosted by Columbia native turned Hollywood actor Josh Kelly, with friend and fellow Atholton High School graduate Brent Connor, the karaoke event in Maple Lawn brought together friends and residents, who performed everything from country radio favorites to Whitney Houston and Jimmy Buffett hits.
Proceeds from ticket sales at the event benefited Casey Cares, which helps families of critically ill children throughout the region enjoy special outings and programs. Since its founding in 2000, the charity has helped thousands of families a year, including many in Howard County, according to founder Casey Baynes.
Casey Cares began in Baltimore, but now operates in seven states and Washington, D.C. The charity, which prides itself on never turning away a family from programming because of financial setbacks, thrives off events and fundraisers like Thursday’s “Sing for a Cause,” Baynes said.
“We help families not once a year, but throughout their treatment process and beyond,” Baynes told the crowd on Thursday. “It’s all about those little moments and lasting memories. Thank you guys for being memory makers.”
Thursday’s event was spearheaded by Connor, who said he first met Baynes more than seven years ago, and started going to Casey Cares events.
“I think it’s a great cause,” Connor said. “The kids who go through the program really need it, and the parents need it too. [When they] see for the brief moment that their kid is enjoying something, you can see the relief on their face.”
Connor said he and Kelly, who have stayed friends since high school, have enjoyed singing karaoke together for years, and when Kelly suggested the two collaborate on a karaoke event, Connor immediately thought of Casey Cares. He started talking with Looney’s Pub about hosting an event during the summer.
Tickets to the event cost $15, with proceeds all going to Casey Cares. There was also an auction featuring sports memorabilia from the Ravens and Orioles, including a signed and framed Ray Lewis photo.
Sporting a white tuxedo for the big night, Kelly helped Connor emcee the event. Since graduating from Atholton High in 2000, Kelly has gone on to appear in films including “Transformers,” and is currently filming the television movie “Reindeer Games,” which will premiere on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 17.
Connor said he hoped to see the night turned into an annual event. Sing for a Cause is one of many community charity events that support Casey Cares each year. Baynes said the charity has five major events each year and community events are held at least once a month. Baynes said she hoped to see Thursday’s event raise approximately $1,000 for the charity; it takes more than $1 million dollars a year to support the organization’s programming.
“We’ve never turned away a child,” Baynes said. “That’s why events like Sing for a Cause are so important to Casey Cares.”