Community rallying to help Gilbert
Local music artist Kerry Gilbert is a fixture in the community, so it comes as no surprise that the area was rocked with the news that Gilbert was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just last week.
In only seven days time, messages of love and support have flooded The KGB Facebook page and many area residents have expressed interest in helping the singer who is beloved by local residents and many others across the region.
Because Gilbert is a full-time musician, he is without health insurance – a significant problem for someone facing expensive cancer treatments – but many in the community are hoping to help with the expenses he will be facing.
LaBella Salon & Spa, owned by Teresa Parasiliti and Russellville native Jessica Vincent, has organized a day-long benefit for Gilbert that will include a silent auction, entertainment by a variety of musicians, concessions and a bake sale, with all proceeds going to benefit Gilbert’s medical treatment.
The event is planned for Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. at the A.W. Todd Centre in downtown Russellville, and Vincent said it’s something no one will want to miss.
“Kerry was my neighbor growing up so I have been close to him and his family for a long time,” Vincent said.
“Teresa is also a friend of the family and when we heard the news, we knew we wanted to do something to help him.
“At the time, no one was planning any type of benefit in our area, so we decided that was what we would do. We thought that it would just be something that would start out small, but in just a few days we have had an overwhelming response.
“There were so many entertainers who wanted to help and so many people have expressed that they are planning to come and support Kerry.
“It’s overwhelming the amount of support this benefit has gotten in such a short time, but really that’s just a testament to the person Kerry is and how many people love him and think a lot of him.”
Vincent said they have already received several silent auction items from generous local and Shoals area businesses and other items are welcomed.
“Every last penny we raise is going to support Kerry, so we appreciate any donations people or businesses want to make,” she said.
“And because the event has grown, volunteers to help with the event will be welcomed as well.”
Vincent said some of the entertainers will include Gary Nichols, Angela Hacker, James LeBlanc, Joseph Baldwin and many others.
“What we tried to do was invite entertainers and bands who have played with Kerry or who have been inspired by him in some way,” Vincent said.
“Of course we want to raise money for him to help with his medical expenses, but this is a celebration of the person Kerry is and what he means to this community.
“Kerry has done so much for others and is so selfless and giving. He has made a tremendous impact on so many people and this event will be a celebration of that.”
Vincent said concessions would be sold at the event as well as bake sale items.
“We are also working on having T-shirts made to raise more money, bracelets that will be made from the guitar strings of local artists, and starting next week, the Salon will be doing purple hair extensions for $10 a strand to support Kerry,” Vincent said.
“The color for pancreatic cancer is purple, so this is just a way for people to outwardly show their support for Kerry.”
The girls at LaBella Salon & Spa, including BriAnna Parasiliti, Kara Shelton, Beth Bishop, Samantha Franks and Morgan Parker, are helpin Vinvent and Teresa Parasiliti organize the event, but Vincent said it’s really been a group effort.
“This isn’t about the Salon or us putting on the event, it’s all about Kerry and helping him,” she said.
“His family and friends have all been so helpful and there are many people helping us with the different aspects of the event and helping us get the word out, so we are very thankful for all the support.”
Vincent said they are still in the planning stages and updates to the event were being added regularly. Those who wish to find the most current information about the benefit can visit the event page at www.facebook.com/events/505277966218098.
Vincent said tickets for the event will be $15 ahead of time and $20 at the door.
Tickets will be available in two weeks and can be purchased at La Bella Salon & Spa located at 1406 N. Pine Street, Florence, AL 35630; and locally at Audrey’s Gifts & Décor located at 520 St. Clair St. in Russellville.
Vincent said additional ticket locations may be available at a later time.
Those interested in tickets who cannot get to one of the locations can also purchase tickets over the phone by calling 256-765-2042 and asking for Jessica or BriAnna.
Information about other fundraisers and events can also be found on The KGB Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-KGB/161573400525073.
According to the press contact, Jon Hamilton, benefit funds have been set up at area banks for those who wish to contribute financially to Gilbert’s medical expenses.
Anyone can donate to The Kerry Gilbert Benefit Fund at any North Alabama branch of Bank Independent, First Metro Bank and CB&S Bank.
A website for out-of-town friends of Gilbert has been set up to receive donations as well at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/kerry-gilbert-local-musician-needs-help-/81973.
After an extended stay at ECM, Gilbert will soon be traveling to Vanderbilt to receive a second opinion. He reached out to his friends and family on social media on Monday and expressed his thanks for all the support.
“I am overjoyed by the outpouring of concern and love this past week,” Gilbert said.
“I appreciate each and every card, call, text, message, [and] e-mail you all shared with me. Thank you for the bank accounts that have been set up in my name, and to those of you who are volunteering to organize and participate in benefits on my behalf. I am deeply moved to tears by all of this.”