Local area high school band members met with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and donated funds raised over the holidays to benefit cancer patients. The Just Brass Band, a local Southlake youth brass band ensemble, raised $1,500 for blood cancers by playing several concerts at the Southlake Town Center during the months of November and December. Funds were raised from donations made by visitors to the Town Center as they stopped to listen and enjoy the holiday spirit while shopping or dining. In addition, The Band also played at the City of Southlake Tree Lighting and the Christmas is For Children’s food drive. Junior Ethan Jezek formed the group for fun five years ago with friends all from Carroll. What started out as a group of friends playing instruments for fun, has turned into something bigger and more meaningful for the community.
Now in it’s fifth year, The Just Brass Band grew in size from seven to 13 players ranging in age from ninth grade to seniors in high school. The Band’s focus again turned personal this year when a friend was diagnosed with lymphoma. The support from the Southlake community was amazing. “As school was finishing up last June, my family friend and fellow trumpet player, Abbey Weaver’s sister, Ella Weaver, was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma,” said Ethan Jezek, band
leader. “Ella was 12-years old when she was diagnosed. I witnessed first-hand how scary cancer is, how horrible cancer treatments are and just how great the Southlake community was to rally behind Ella and her fight. I wanted to be a part of that support system, so that no one has to go through what Ella has gone through. The Band agreed and decided to donate the money raised to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”
“We found out Ella had lymphoma on June 10, 2016,” said Kristen Weaver, Ella’s mother. “Test results were inconclusive as to which kind of lymphoma Ella had, so she underwent aggressive treatment for both Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. During the past six-months she endured in-patient care at Cook Children’s Hospital Fort Worth. I am happy to report, that as of December 15th, the chemotherapy worked and Ella’s body is cancer-free. The support from the
Southlake community has been amazing. And to have The Just Brass Band play in Ella’s honor is beyond words.”
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) exists to find cures and ensure access to lifesaving therapies for all blood cancer patients with one goal in mind: A world without blood cancers. Since 1954, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in blood cancer research. LLS is the leading source of free blood cancer information, education and support, helping patients in their communities through chapters across the US and Canada. The North Texas Chapter of LLS gave more than $1.4 million in direct financial assistance to patients and families last year. Nationally, LLS gives more than $50 million per year annually to ground breaking research.
As the name implies The Just Brass Band is a group of 13 Carroll band students, all brass instrument players. Members of the band include: tuba – Ethan Jezek, band leader (11th grade); french horns – Sally Hatfield (10th grade), Carys Sutherland (9th grade); trombones – David Coughlin (11th grade), Asher Stevens (10th grade), Greg Salazar (10th grade), Han Parker (9th grade); trumpets – Sam Ortiz (12th grade), Joclyn Ward (12th grade), Tanner Dotson (12th grade), Elizabeth Adkins (11th grade), Rohan Khanijow (9th grade), and alternate Walter Gaman (11th grade). “This was my first year to be a part of The Just Brass Band,” said Tanner Dotson, band member. “I liked how our music careers have made a difference outside of our families. Playing in public was a great experience. Getting great feedback from strangers, and knowing their donations were helping people with types of blood cancer made the experience 10-times more worthwhile.”
“I loved seeing the kids and families react to our music,” said band member, Joclyn Ward. “Especially when the little kids called my trumpet a flute! Their reactions were priceless.” “Not only was being a part of The Just Brass Band a great experience,” said Greg Salazar, band member. “But I raised money for a good cause while having fun with my friends over the holiday break.” “Playing at the Town Square allowed my daughter to see how her music raised people’s
spirits as they went about their holiday errands,” said Jennifer Sutherland, Carys’ mom. “Donating the money they collected to this worthwhile charity also gave her a sense of purpose. The Just Brass Band is a wonderful way for the kids’ love of music to make a positive difference in the community. The experience takes these kids who practice alone so much, into the next level of what being a musician can mean and do.”
“The Band would like to thank everyone who supported us,” said Jezek. “We are grateful for the continuous generosity of the people of Southlake and their families and friends. Thank you for your donations to leukemia & lymphoma cancer. And thank you for supporting a bunch of kids who just like to have fun playing their instruments.” The Just Brass Band plans to continue the tradition and will play again next holiday season at the Southlake Town Center. To keep up with The Band, you can check their Facebook page: The Just Brass Band.