Published in the April 6, 2016 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — Music has both the power to heal and to bring a community together.
And that is precisely the goal of singer-songwriter Katrina Gustafson, the mastermind behind “Music for Molly,” a benefit concert for Molly Malone on Saturday, April 16 from 1-3 p.m. at the Calvary Christian Church on Grove Street.
The family-friendly event will feature music, raffles and a silent auction, with 100 percent of all proceeds benefitting the Malone family. Among the sought-after silent auction items will be a four-pack of tickets to the Selena Gomez concert on May 28 at the TD Garden donated by Magic 106.7, a one-week vacation at Ocean Edge in Brewster and an Adirondack chair with a favorite sports team logo.
Molly Malone is a sophomore at LHS with a passion for figure skating and Katrina is a senior at LHS who has been singing since she learned how to talk. When Katrina heard that Molly was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in January, she knew she had to do something to help lift the girl’s spirits, assist the Malone family with the impending expenses and raise awareness of pediatric cancer.
Katrina went to her parents, Gina and Marc Gustafson, with her dilemma. She decided the best way she could help was through her gift of music. For the past few years, Katrina has been performing regularly with her band at both local and regional venues, such as concerts on the common, the MarketStreet green and the Topsfield and Fryeburg fairs, as well as solo events at Sunrise Senior Living and Flatbread Pizza in Bedford. She writes and records her own music and has built quite a repertoire of original and cover tunes.
Her dad serves as the band’s sound engineer and her older brother, Chris Roumeliotis, is the band’s lead electric guitar player. Her family and the other band members were on board with her Music for Molly idea immediately.
Katrina thought of others she could ask to volunteer their time. As a member of Sweet Treble, Lynnfield High’s all-girl a cappella group, she thought this group would be a natural fit to perform as well, and they were thrilled to be asked to contribute. The same was true for the Buccappellas, the all-boy a cappella group from Bedford High.
After getting the blessing of Molly’s family to hold the concert, the event took on a life of its own.
“This concert is all of Molly’s favorite songs in one concert. It’s her favorite bands, like One Direction and even the Beatles,” Katrina told the Villager.
Donations of all kinds have been offered for the silent auction and raffles. And a small army of volunteers has been organized by Katrina to assist with arranging these donations into beautiful gift baskets as well as manning the raffles and silent auction items on the day of the event. Then, of course, there is the setting up and breaking down of the venue.
“I got together the kids who wanted to help out at the event with a sign up sheet at the front office (of the high school). A lot of people really wanted to help, which is awesome,” Katrina said.
Gina found the venue and is grateful to the Calvary Christian Church for offering to donate the use of their large and modern sanctuary for the concert.
Planning the concert has also enabled Katrina to reconnect with Molly. “I’ve known her through Girl Scouts. I helped her troop once at Molly’s house. I do remember meeting her when we were kids. I hadn’t reconnected with her until now,” she said.
Last weekend, Katrina visited with Molly and they planned ways she could also be involved. In addition to having the playlist consist of Molly’s favorite songs, Molly and one of her best friends, Ashley Mitchell, have been assigned a project to gather their favorite photographs. These will become part of a video montage interspersed with words of inspiration and flashed on two large video screens during the concert.
Family is amazed
The Malone family has been simply amazed by the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community throughout this ordeal as well as the strength they’ve witnessed in their daughter.
“We are just so touched by the overwhelming support from our community, both friends and strangers. People have brought us meals and gift cards and gifts and offered to help with our other kids, have offered to run errands for us and do all kinds of things for us. It’s just been incredible,” Molly’s mom, Nukhet Malone, told the Villager.
She added, “Katrina is just this incredible young lady who had this beautiful idea to help Molly. She just wanted to help in her own way, which is through her music. She is volunteering her time as well as her band for this fund raiser and when people heard about her plans so many people have come forward to help her and this event really has just grown.”
“We are just thrilled for Molly to see how many people truly are supporting her in her fight. That’s what we’re excited about. We’re just excited to see how many people really are going to come out for this event just for her. It really is all about her,” Nukhet said.
Molly is the oldest of the four children of Nukhet and Tim Malone. Molly has been figure skating since she was 4 years old and is a member of North Shore Skating Club in Reading.
“That’s her passion and she’s a big sister. She has three younger siblings who absolutely adore her, Emily, Audrey and Patrick,” her mom said.
Emily is a first-grader and Audrey and Patrick are twins in kindergarten. They attend the Huckleberry Hill School, where Molly also attended elementary school. Audrey likes to skate, just like her big sister, while both Emily and Patrick enjoy karate.
Molly is not yet halfway through her chemotherapy treatments, which they hope will end next September.
“Her treatment is very aggressive so for that reason she can’t go to school,” her mom said. She has been receiving tutoring at home when she is well enough.
She is being treated at Boston’s Children’s Hospital Jimmy Fund Clinic and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her cancer was discovered in her cervical spine. “It was in her bone and soft tissue so it was pressing against her spinal column causing excruciating pain. Then she began to have weakness and tingling in her left arm as the tumor was growing,” her mom recalled.
Prior to her diagnosis, Molly had skated in Nancy Kerrigan’s Stars on Ice Halloween show in October in Manchester, N.H., her mom said, noting one of the favorite moves she enjoys watching her daughter perform is her spiral.
The North Shore Skating Club will be honoring Molly this weekend during the club’s annual skating show at the Burbank Arena in Reading — a show in which Molly had participated every year since she began skating. Her sister Audrey will be skating in her first show this year.
While Audrey had been looking forward to skating together with her big sister, now they are looking ahead to that happening next year. Molly can’t skate during treatment. “She is eager to get back on the ice,” her mom said.
Nukhet has been inspired by the fighting spirit and character her daughter has shown throughout this ordeal.
“A few weeks ago I said to her, ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you. I don’t know why, out of so many kids in the world, you were picked out.’ She said to me: ‘Because they knew I could handle it.’”
“We have a Facebook page that we started for Molly just to keep friends and family abreast of her treatment and everything that is going on with her. Her Facebook page is ‘Molly’s Fight…Fight Like a Girl.’” It is a public site, so those with Facebook accounts who would like to offer their support to Molly are invited to join.
About the concert
Admission is just $5 for adults and teens while children ages 12 and under will be admitted free. Pre-sale tickets may be purchased at the Lynnfield Recreation office at Town Hall today and tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7, between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Doors will open at 12:30 p.m., with musical performances from 1 to 3 p.m. Raffles and the silent auction will be ongoing throughout the event, with silent auction winners announced at the conclusion of the concert.
At 3 p.m., Gina said Lynnfield native Jackie Bourque will speak briefly about the Reid R. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Alliance, the organization created in memory of the LHS graduate which sponsors events such as Reid’s Ride and Reid’s Run to support research directed at cancers that strike adolescents and young adults. Bourque was a classmate of Reid’s and is a board member of the foundation.