• James Parry

Banding together in fundraising battle against cancer with Exit 22 in St. Lazare


PHOTO COURTESY DANIEL VINCENT

All set for their Bar Chez Maurice tribute to Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip while raising funds to help young adults in their fight against cancer are Exit 22's Steve Churchill (bass), Steve Budnik (guitar), Daniel Vincent (lead vocals), Kim Hale (backing vocals), Dan Daoust (guitar), and Peter Nagy (drums).

By day, they are a band of diverse professionals, aged from 36 to their early 60s, working in cabinetmaking, aerospace, IT, logistics, real estate, and textiles. At night, they switch to do what they love best. Playing in their rock cover band named Exit 22, headed up by out-front singing lead Daniel Vincent. And so dubbed because some of its members live in Hudson just off that very exit where they also practice in their studio which has a sign hanging on the wall that reads 'Act Old Later!'

All are huge fans of Canadian music icons The Tragically Hip that has just completed their final farewell cross-country tour and their lead singer Gord Downie who, tragically, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in May last year and who, defying all odds, celebrated his 53rd birthday this past Monday, February 6, just two days after World Cancer Day.

They are also huge fans of a lady by the name of Deborah Bridgman who they describe as their 'warrior, friend, and inspiration' showing them every day that cancer does not have to be something that knocks you down and doesn’t let you get back up.

Bridgman, herself a Hip fan and who lives in Chomedy, Laval, is also aged 53 and is a true five-time cancer survivor having first being diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer - a.k.a. Cancer Lifer - over 20 years ago with countless extensive treatments and major operations at The Jewish General Hospital in Montreal ever since.

But as she told Your Local Journal in an exclusive interview earlier this week, “Without putting too much emphasis on my constant battles with cancer which last year resulted in complete loss of function in my left arm, I love my life. I'm a relentless advocate for young adults with cancer and try to consistently spread the words of live your life now and live it with all you've got!”

Which brings us to a very special fundraiser night being staged at Bar Chez Maurice in St. Lazare on Saturday, February 18, starring Exit 22 and with all money raised going to a cause very dear to her heart. Namely Montreal-based Hope & Cope and, more specifically, one of their programs called CancerFightClub of which she is a volunteer. A program that offers an inclusive, supportive, welcoming environment with age-appropriate, relevant, and timely resources for young adults (18-39) living with cancer and their supporters.

Said Bridgman, an indomitable fighter in her own personal battle against cancer as well as for others, who began training in martial arts some two decades ago, has reached her Second Degree Black Belt, and who worked for Bell Canada for 25 years before leaving on long term disability nine years ago, “I am so extremely happy that Exit 22 are doing this event. First and foremost, every one of them - including their better halves – are my friends who I love dearly.

“They are so generous to offer their time to do this. I have no words to describe Daniel Vincent who has stepped up to the plate and has been relentless in making this event happen. I love the band and constantly brag about their incredible likeness to The Tragically Hip.”

Said Vincent, “We are so much looking forward to this very special show. The songs of Gord Downie, being the poet that he is, touch us all in one way or another and we get a lot of enjoyment out of trying to emulate their songs as best we can to do justice to the feeling and spirit of the songs. It was quite devastating to us when we heard the news and, as it turned out, 2016 was a terrible year for losing people in the entertainment world. We haven’t lost Gord yet and we hope we don’t for a very long time.”

Added Vincent, “Back in May 2016 when we learned the news about Gord, it struck a chord with us and a couple of months later I approached the band about doing a tribute to them and at the same time turn it into a fundraiser so that we could play a small part in the battle against this disease which touches everyone in some way.

“A wonderful band, Double Take, has generously offered to open up the show for us and warm up the crowd with a set of acoustic favourites. And there will be a short slide show featuring young adults with cancer as well as Gord Downie, and the band playing to a very nice Tragically Hip song, Last of the Uncut Gems, so very appropriate for the evening's theme.”

Said Bridgman, who is currently taking oral chemotherapy treatment for her Metastatic Breast Cancer and who recognizes that she will be forever on treatment, “My METS friends and I have fondly named ourselves 'Lifers' due to the fact that we will never be cancer free. But I do strongly encourage people to attend the show at Bar Chez Maurice for many reasons. Saturday night at a great bar, listening to wonderful music surrounded by friends and, at the same time, supporting an amazing cause helping to generate the word courage. For it takes courage to fight this terrible disease.”

Tickets for the show are $30, doors open at 7 p.m., the address is 1897 Chemin Ste-Angélique, and for more info call (450) 455-3544 or go to www.barchezmaurice.qc.ca.

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