Houida Kassem

Another year, another record for McGregor Music Festival



By Ron Giofu


The 29th annual McGregor Music Festival set another fundraising record.

This year’s festival featured eight bands, a pig auction, raffles, a car show and food but organizers also had to contend with rain and cooler than normal weather conditions. While the weather impacted attendance, the festival still raised a record $44,000.

All proceeds have been donated to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.

Sue LeClair, chair of the McGregor Music Festival organizing committee, said this year’s total is up by approximately $5,000 over last year.

“It just keeps growing and growing,” she said.

Despite a drop in attendance from roughly 700 people to 500 people but LeClair pointed out the pig auction alone raised $1,700.

“They came with their money,” she said.

Corporate sponsorship was also strong this year, LeClair added.

“We don’t have to beg for money,” she stated.  “Everyone we ask supports us.”

The businesses who sponsor the festival and the bands that come out are all from the Windsor-Essex County area and LeClair indicated that is not going to change. She said proceeds also stay in the area.

“That’s what it’s all about,” she said.

The McGregor Music Festival committee and representatives from the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation celebrate the record $44,000 that was raised at last month’s festival held at Co-An Park.

Proceeds this year will benefit video conferencing and the patient assistance fund. Video conferencing will allow patients and doctors to communicate with each other without having to always meet in person. Doctors can consult with other physicians who may be out of town while patients can still meet with their doctors if they can’t make an appointment.

If people are struggling to pay their mortgage, transportation costs or with other expenses such as utilities, the patient assistance fund can help with those costs.

LeClair said they were worried about not hitting their goals this year due to the inclement weather, but was thrilled that they not only hit, but surpassed it. Giving out the money to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation is one of the committee’s annual highlights.

“That’s what makes it exciting is hitting our goals,” said LeClair.

Houida Kassem, executive director of the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, said the festival is a “collaborative effort” between the committee, the bands, the sponsors, the media and all of those who support the festival.

Kassem added the festival is a family-friendly event and estimated it has raised at least $250,000 in its first 29 years. The fact the festival set another fundraising record this year despite poor weather wasn’t lost on Kassem, either.

“That speaks volumes of Sue and her organizing committee,” said Kassem. “Rain or shine, it didn’t matter.”

LeClair said they are going to stay the course for next year’s 30th annual festival, with the date already being set. It will be June 9, 2019 back at Co-An Park in McGregor.

“We’re going to keep it local and raise our goal level,” she said. “We’re going to do the same thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The fundraising target for next year’s festival is $50,000, LeClair added.

The committee also paid tribute to Madeline Pheleham, a former co-chair who died recently. LeClair credited Pheleham for getting her involved with the committee and without Pheleham’s involvement, the festival would have gone under a decade ago.

McGregor Music Festival plays on despite weather



By Ron Giofu


It was cooler than normal and wetter than organizers would have preferred.

However, the McGregor Music Festival was presented Sunday afternoon and evening at Co-An Park undaunted.

Crowds were slightly lower and the entrants in the car show that was also held during the festival also saw a decline in participants this year but the organizing committee was still pleased with how the event unfolded. Committee chair Sue LeClair said those who came out “brought their money” and still gave where they could.

“This morning, I didn’t think we were going to get this many,” said LeClair, who stated around 4:30 p.m. they had about 500 people on the grounds at various points during the day.

It was the 29th McGregor Music Festival and proceeds went to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.

Jammin’ 4 Wellness performs during the 29th annual McGregor Music Festival, held June 10 at Co-An Park.

“It’s the only event for the Cancer Centre Foundation in Essex County,” LeClair stated. “We want Windsor to have the best equipment at the cancer clinic.”

The event hits even closer to home for the committee, as LeClair noted one of its members is now battling cancer.

“We have a committee member fighting it now and we want her and everyone else to have everything possible at the cancer centre,” she said.

Specific projects this year’s proceeds will go towards will be video conferencing equipment and the patient assistance fund. Houida Kassem, executive director with the foundation, explained that if people are struggling to pay their mortgage, transportation costs or with other expenses such as utilities, the patient assistance fund can help.

“To date, we have helped over 700 people,” she said. “If it wasn’t for people like Sue and her committee of volunteers, that would not happen. It’s like a labour of love for their volunteers.”

The hope is that the festival raises more than the record $39,000 established in 2017, but LeClair had her fingers crossed the weather wouldn’t put a damper on those efforts. To date, she estimated the McGregor Music Festival has surpassed $250,000 in its first 28 years.

The McGregor Music Festival was held Sunday, June 10 at Co-An Park with Ken Koekstat (pictured) and Brand X being one of the bands.

Kassem agreed with LeClair that if a patient is going to be treated in Windsor, they want the best possible equipment for them. She said the festival has grown over the years and it is a testament to the festival’s popularity.

Bands included C2C Entertainment, the All-Star Band, Rio Michaels, Exit 31, Brand X, Jammin 4 Wellness, Lookin’ Back and Bad Moustache. There were a number of raffles and draws as well with the pig auction matching last year’s record of $1,200. A final fundraising total for this year’s festival will not be known until July.

LeClair, who expressed thanks to all of the festival’s sponsors, said even though next year is the 30th annual festival, the committee will likely keep things the same.

“We’re not changing anything,” she said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

G.L. Heritage teams up with Garage Gym to raise over $42,000 rowing against cancer


By Jolene Perron


The event only took one month to plan, but its affects on the local community will last much, much longer.

“’F*** Cancer, let’s do something, something big’ was sent to Garage Gym owner Tony Smith.

Tony responded with simply OK.

“I knew right there it would be big,” explained co-owner of G.L. Heritage, Greg Grondin. “After our grand opening my father, the G of G&L, received the news that he had Stage 4 lung cancer. This is the reason for the text I sent. Tony and Dani (owners of The Garage Gym), having had cancer affect their lives, also welcomed it with open arms. I didn’t realize that with Tony and Dani comes a group of amazing generous people that came to the table.”

The Windsor-Essex Cancer Centre Foundation accepted a cheque for over $42,000 from Garage Gym and G.L Heritage Brewing Co. last Tuesday. From left: Foundation chair Stephen Roberts, Garage Gym trainer Marisa Willms, Garage Gym owners Dani and Tony Smith, G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. co-owner Greg Grondin and foundation executive director Houida Kassem.

That group, Grondin explained, included roughly 140 rowers, who have banded together to row a total of 42,195 metres in a relay race. G.L. Heritage and The Garage Gym were joined by Integrity Tool and Mold and Morton Industrial Services to put on the event.

The cheque presentation took place last Tuesday and the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation received $42,087.25.

“We had so many raffle prizes that we had to group them together,” said Tony.

Houida Kassem, executive director at the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, said it was the largest donation for the foundation’s “Grow On” campaign.

“I think it’s great,” she said at the cheque presentation, telling representatives from Garage Gym and the G.L. Heritage Brewery that “you did a fantastic job.”

“I think everyone’s been touched by cancer,” said Garage Gym co-owner Dani Smith. “I think that’s why it’s been successful.”

“The call to action stirred memories of my mother’s bald head as she battled through chemo therapy,” explained administrative assistant for The Garage Gym, Kyle Bezaire. “It reminded me of  the heartache I witnessed watching Dani’s mother, Lynda, undergoing radiation treatment that prevented her from holding our two young boys when she needed nothing more than their tiny hugs. It also took me back to just a few months before picturing the look of despair in our staff member Steph’s eyes when she found out that her father, Bill’s, current bout with the disease had taken a bad turn. Mostly, it made me sad, angry, and hungry for a fight; all emotions I pride myself in transferring to positive outlets.”

Rowers teamed up in a rowing relay race Nov. 18 at G.L. Heritage, which raised $40,000 for the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.

Bezaire explained that the team banded together to organize an event focusing on smiles, support, love, perseverance, fitness, and beer, which he said are qualities that the loved ones they are battling for display on a daily basis.

All of the proceeds raised are going to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, which ensure the funds will help their families, their friends families, and their neighbours all locally.

While the marathon itself isn’t new to The Garage Gym, who held something similar in 2015, they explained they needed something to help make it into an event and give it some foundation, rather than just having a rowing marathon.

“I think this is a fantastic cause,” explained Bezaire. “In high school, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer which caused him to miss nearly our entire grade 11 year. There was a group of about 20 of us who shaved out heads in solidarity with him. At the time there wasn’t much that I thought I could do so I did whatever I could, basically meaning shave my head and say some prayers on his behalf. I feel privileged to be a part of this event and to be able to be working along side local business owners who want to do some good in their community. I think it gives a purpose beyond sustainability to the businesses and employees, such as myself. We get to see a real impact we can have in our community too.”


McGregor Music Festival raises $39,000 for Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation



By Ron Giofu


It was a big year for the McGregor Music Festival and that was proven with the cheque the committee presented to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.

A cheque for $39,000 was presented to the foundation last Tuesday night at the home of Susan LeClair, chair of the McGregor Music Festival organizing committee. The June 11 festival was the 28th annual and was held at Co-An Park with nine bands, a car show, a pig auction and raffles.

“We had 700 people attend and they brought their wallets,” said LeClair. “We’re $3,000 over last year.”

Proceeds will benefit men’s health programs and the patient assistance fund, with LeClair noting they assisted women’s health programs last year.

The festival began through the McGregor Knights of Columbus, as a sister of a member became stricken with cancer and they wanted to do something to help.

Representatives from the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation accept a cheque from the McGregor Music Festival committee at the home of chair Susan LeClair (front row, second from right). The June 11 event raised $39,000 with the cheque presentation occurring last Tuesday evening.

Representatives from the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation accept a cheque from the McGregor Music Festival committee at the home of chair Susan LeClair (front row, second from right). The June 11 event raised $39,000 with the cheque presentation occurring last Tuesday evening.

“They are still part of it,” pointed out Richard Meloche, a member of the committee’s board of directors.

LeClair said the pig alone sold for more than $600 and they had strong corporate sponsorship this year.

“All of the people are doing this for free,” added Meloche. “We don’t pay for any of the music. It’s awesome that everyone comes together the way they do. It’s such a great cause. Who hasn’t been affected by cancer?”

Meloche credited LeClair for her leadership, but LeClair put credit back on to the committee.

“Everyone knows they’ve got a job and they do that job,” said LeClair. “It’s a well-oiled machine.”

While some work has started now, the committee won’t start meeting in earnest again until next March.

Houida Kassem, executive director with the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, said the $39,000 raised through the McGregor Music Festival is “fantastic” and credited LeClair and her team of volunteers for their work.

“Every dollar makes a difference to the people in our community,” said Kassem.

Kassem said the money will make difference to the people living with cancer and said the $39,000 will help ensure the treatment at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre is state of the art.