Local Musicians Come Together to “Close the Door” on Parkinson’s Disease
By Eldon Weaver Photography by Jeff Keefer
His connection with Parkinson’s disease is as personal as it gets.
“When I received my own diagnosis, I evaluated a half-dozen organizations for where to put my work and support,” said local art photographer Jeff Keefer. “I chose the Michael J. Fox Foundation, because they combine the efforts of everybody to find the cure and close the door based on science.”
Jeff has been a supporter of the organization’s work since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005. He has chaired the national Michael J. Fox Foundation and is its current vice chair. In addition, he donates the proceeds from his VIVID Gallery in Sea Pines to the Foundation.
But he wanted to do more—both to raise funds and create awareness.
So, together with his friend, local singer-songwriter Sara Burns, Jeff will host “Fun with the Fox,” a fundraising evening of music, art and refreshments on October 12 in the plaza of The Shops at Sea Pines Center.
Coming together to find a cure
Jeff met Sara Burns several years ago when he was photographing the Harbour Town Lighthouse, and she was performing nearby.
“The connection Sara was making with her audience was what struck me,” he said. “How did she share such life experience at such an early age?”
In the audience response, Jeff saw right away that the emotions he strives to inspire with his photography have much in common with the songs that Sara writes and performs. “It’s the same kind of connection that we are both working to make,” he said.
“The respect Jeff showed me was encouraging,” said Sara. “When another artist recognizes what you’re trying to do, it helps you see that there is a point to it all.”
So when Jeff was looking for an idea for a fundraiser, he knew he wanted Sara to be part of it. She in turn, was enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Looking to offer audiences something special, Sara suggested a duo with fellow Hilton Head singer-songwriter Taylor Kent. Driving together to Nashville several years ago, the two young women—both up-and-coming artists on the Hilton Head Island music scene at the time—had reached the decision to “combine rather than compete,” as Sara describes it.
While performing and recording prolifically as solo artists since then, the two try to team up when they can and perform together as the “Gypsy Bleu’s”.
“Fun with the Fox gave us a chance to sing together again, and we don’t get that often enough lately,” Sara said. “I have two younger sisters, and the “Gypsy Bleu’s” became my chance to fulfill my dream of singing with a sister, of working on music as sisters. It was like a dream come true.”
And, according to Sara, the musicians she has gathered to perform together at Fun with the Fox—Zach Stevens, Charlie Simpson and Nate Douglas—are all an extension of this dream, too.
“It is so nice to be able to work together,” she said. “I love all of them. They are so talented. When we played together at rehearsal it gave me goosebumps.”
“What will make it all complete will be the audience,” added Taylor.
Music, refreshments and a backdrop of art photography are a few of the reasons people are planning to attend “Fun with the Fox” on October 12.
“Knowing too, that your ticket price is going to the researchers working today to bring an end to Parkinson’s Disease, is a feeling we want to share with people,” Jeff said. “Nobody is in this alone.”
Fun with the Fox for Parkinson’s Disease
An evening of art, music, refreshments and fun! Tickets are $50 and include light hors d’ouevres from Lowcountry Produce.
Wednesday, October 12th | Shops at Sea Pines Center Plaza
7:30 - 9:30 p.m. | Buy Tickets at www.FunWithTheFox.com