Now in its second year at Vassar, Tunes 4 Tay will bring six student musical groups together, ranging from a capella to ukulele, all to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Tunes 4 Tay is a fundraiser organized by tay-bandz, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research at various research centers, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD among others. The event is on Saturday, October 5 at 8 p.m. in the College Center 223-multipurpose room.
Taylor Matthews founded tay-bandz in 2004 after she was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 11 in 2003. The organization started as a small-scale fundraising initiative based in Matthews’ hometown of Scarsdale, N.Y. Matthews created merchandise, organized auctions, fashion shows and held the annual 5-K Relay for Tay. After Matthews passed away in 2008, her family carried on her legacy by continuing tay-bandz. The foundation has grown into a hugely successful fundraising organization with events nationwide.
Over the past few years, tay-bandz expanded its fundraising initiatives onto college campuses, networking through Matthews’ friends who were beginning to attend college. Night Owl Emily Nash ‘13 started the event Tunes 4 Tay at the College last spring. Nash is from Scarsdale, N.Y. and is close with the Matthews family. Originally planning to hold a 5-K relay, Nash felt that Vassar students would more likely attend a musical event. Now, Tunes 4 Tay has spread to college campuses across the country, including Fordham University, Johns Hopkins University, North Carolina State University and others.
This year, Joanna Kloppenburg ’14, also from Scarsdale, has organized the event. Kloppenburg has been involved with tay-bandz since middle school, and is close family friends with the Matthews.
“I wanted to bring a diverse range of different musicians on campus, whether organized or not, just to bring people together for one common cause,” said Kloppeburg. Six groups will perform, including the Night Owls, Vastards, Laura Kay ’14, who sings and plays ukulele, a jazz trio, DJ Max Rollins and a jazz combo from the student jazz ensemble. Kloppenburg and the Night Owls will also be selling merchandise for tay-bandz, such as bracelets, headbands and key chains.
“I’m not musically involved in any structured way, but it’s something I’m very passionate about. And I have made a lot of friends who are involved in music, so it’s been very exciting for me to be able to take a lot of the people I know who are dong a lot of amazing work and bring them together to showcase that for such a great cause,” Kloppenburg said. Kloppenburg feels that featuring just six groups will create an intimate atmosphere and allow the musicians to perform a sampling of their work.
Tunes 4 Tay will likely continue next year. “It’s a tradition that the Night Owls really want to continue being involved in, so they’ve been helping me a lot with the event,” Kloppenburg explained. “I think that the torch will be passed on to them as well, and some of them were involved in it last year so they already know how it goes. That’s the dream of tunes for Tay, that it will be a recurring event.” Though the event occurred last spring, Kloppenburg decided to host it in the fall to kick off the year.
Kloppenburg spoke to the importance of raising money for pediatric cancer research, as the federal government underfunds it. “There’s very little federal funding for pediatric cancer research, and I think Taylor and her family identified that hole going through the process,” said Kloppenburg. “So this has been a really large part of finding funding for that kind of research,” she added.
Donations are required to enter the event. Kloppenburg recommends donating $5.