A Palooza of a time for Donna Colton

Donna Colton and husband Sam Patterelli at DonnaPalooza.

Donna Colton and husband Sam Patterelli at DonnaPalooza.

The community came through for Donna Colton on Sunday.

DonnaPalooza was a sweet and vibrant success at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, from the rich music that filled the air from the volunteer bands and musicians on stage to the buzzing fans and friends who hugged, talked, ate, drank and wished well to veteran Syracuse singer, songwriter and guitarist Colton and her husband Sam Patterelli as she continues her fight to recover from several operations to herself of cancer.

Colton smiled like sunshine in the back of the theater as she greeted folks that wandered in from the wintry afternoon. It felt great to be out of the house socially for the second day in a row, she said to my dear wife Karen and I. The night before had been her first official night out, and she and her husband had gone on a date to see friends perform a gig. Quite natural, that choice , I told her. She laughed in agreement.

The new CD.

The new CD.

Patterelli threaded through the crowd lugging a big carton of CDs. It held their latest recording, just off the press, and he was handing them out to friends. Free, he explained to me after I gave him a big hug and reached into my pocket, asking how much those new CDs were fetching. Soon will come the same music for sale with video accompaniment on a DVD. That package is just not ready yet, he said, before hurrying on his way to press more hands with the new sounds from he and his wife.

The Easy Ramblers, first band up for us (but Castle Creek had already played), warmed everybody with Maureen Henesey’s pure voice and the string sounds from Eddie Zacholl and Dann Mather.

Then came the CNY Women of Music, an all-star ensemble featuring the voices of Letizia, Ashley Cox, Henesey, Joanne Perry and Joanna Jewett. I took my iPhone 6 out of my pocket to catch their harmonies for a video. (The women appear left to right in the order listed above.)

We stood on the slanted cement floor of the former movie theater — all of the chairs are long gone — eating from the ample buffet of pizza, pasta, salad and desserts and chatting with friends Theresa Constantine and David Simmonds and their fifth-grader daughter, Althea. Longtime friend of us all, Dave Kaspar, too, most appropriately, because he and I first met when I was writing a feature story for the big daily about Donna Colton and her cousin, Sharon Allen, and their band Double Down, in the early 1990s. Dave and I have sat together for every M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest since, except for the one I skipped, the summer after the big daily laid me off in 2013.

Karen asked for me to take a loop to look over the big array of raffle items open for ticket chances or silent auction bid.

I put my name and a big, round $50 down for a year’s supply of pizza from a joint called Trapper’s. A great price for the dozen-large-pies prize listed if I won, I figured.

Karen was attracted to a wide-framed collection from Syracuse photographer Jack O Bocchino taken in autumn at
Green Lakes State Park. She bid $35.

We continued our walk, and I spied veteran radio host Dave Frisina and his wife, Jenn, and we stopped to say hello. We marveled at the turnout, and Dave mentioned a principle associated with the faith and heart of one of our favorite rockers. “You know what Bruce (Springsteen) says,” Dave reminded me. “We take care of our own.”


With that, we returned to our group, said our goodbyes, and made our way back to the car, which Karen had parked a couple blocks away in the Westcott Nation neighborhood, which sits a mile-plus-or-so from the Syracuse University campus.

Monday, I messaged coordinator Julie Briggs to ask if final numbers had been tallied.

Indeed, again.

Some 250 people had bought tickets at $20 each and attended to help Donna and Sam. And plenty had taken part in those raffles.

Jack O Bocchino photography won at silent auction.

Jack O Bocchino photography won at silent auction.

In fact, Julie wrote back to me, Karen’s bid had won that framed collection.

We arranged to meet at Cafe Kubal on James Street, where I handed over the cash, she handed over the framed work donated by Bocchino, and we sat with coffee (her) and blueberry iced tea (me) to trade tales and final figures. Julie said in her possession somewhere she holds rather nervously a lot of cash to hand to Donna and Sam. After tracking down all the raffle winners, the net total raised will top $7,000.

Hallelujah. That’s one great Sunday.

Donna and Sam still have many medical bills to pay, even after her health insurance.

Here’s the link to her fundraising page.

Have you ever bid in a silent auction, and if so, for what and how much? What would you have bid for a dozen large pizzas? What do you think of the CNY Women of Music video?

37 thoughts on “A Palooza of a time for Donna Colton

    • Silent Auction rules: All the prizes are put in a centrally located place with a bid sheet. You sign your name and your bid to anything you want. Next person can put their name under yours and go higher if they wish. You can come back and go higher. Third person can sign their name. Which is what the money-raisers want to have happen. And what happened to the pizza pies prize, obviously, Rachel. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is such a fantastic collection of thoughts and memories shared, Mark! So glad you got a free tape to listen to Donna’s singing. I also am so excited about the photograph series that she won for $35! This was a ‘steal!’ You both will enjoy this throughout all the years it is displayed. I felt it was so beautiful.
    Glad you gave us a summary of the music onstage, so happy the total came to a great amount and know this will mean a big helping hand towards the bills that escalate quickly during different diseases and especially during cancer’s ravages of savings.
    Your bid of $50 was about as high as I would have gone, but it is probably worth $120 since large pizzas are usually more than $10. It was a generous amount to have put down, Mark.
    I won in a silent auction a blue velvet box, which held a woman’s collection of pins and trinkets. I put “$25” on a piece of paper. My grandies love studying the pins, there is a Nixon pin, a Huey Lewis and the News pin, along with butterfly pins and pretty holiday pins. I have it available to all and I wear pins often. It is a habit my Mom used during her teaching days, I still do this every season. The box is pretty and a quilted satin material. It was well worth the price and it went to Muscular Dystrophy. (good cause)


    • You won a box full of memories, for you because your mom started the pin tradtion, to your grands, who love to look at the pins, Robin. Not to forget abotu the blue velvet box. A bargain for you and great for Muscular Dystrophy Association to get the generous donation of $25. Very nice.

      Thanks for your kind words toward Donna and Sam. They are two of the nicest people in the world, deserving of all the faith and support shown this day for them.

      I still wish I’d won the pizza pies for $50. πŸ™‚


  2. Nice piece, Mark. Great to see the music community come together in this way. Would’ve been there playing with Arty, but for a throat infection. Bad timing on my part.


  3. Often involved with organizing fundraisers for the Rock School Scholarship Fund which grew out of my son’s school of rock, although we often face the challenge that ‘hey, we’re not trying to fight cancer here.’ (that being that it may not seem as worthy of a cause, but worthy nonetheless. Congratulations on a good day for Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an absolutely great time! The best was seeing Donna and Sam and celebrating the friends, fans and businesses that made generous donations and showed so much love and caring for two amazing people.


  5. Glad the event brought in so many $$s πŸ™‚ What a wonderful way to celebrate LIFE. And congrats to Karen on her new art collection. Sorry you didn’t score the pizzas. Wonder how much they went for. I love silent auctions–great way to shop guilt-free.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the thing about silent auctions. Unless you’re there and gawking, you don’t know what the bid is that beat your bid. I bet the pizzas brought in at least 75 beans, Liz. πŸ™‚

      And, yes, this was a day to celebrate life. Sweet, sweet, life.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mama likes that CD cover. We’ve all been affected by the C word. I found a lump on my birthday and the week of waiting for last week’s mammogram was nerve-racking to say the least. The system went down just after I had it done, so I had to wait three hours in a gown with another lady in a 2nd level waiting room, and the fear in those places is palpable. So many women there, wondering if their bodies were trying to kill them, wondering if they’d be alive this time next year, how they would afford treatment, if they’d see their kids graduate, how it will take its toll on their bodies. I had the opportunity to hug and pray for the woman waiting next to me. And that’s the best we can do in those circumstances, listen and encourage others. So glad DonnaPalooza raised a lot of money. The ladies sounded good and looked like they were having fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sounds like a really good time Mark – the fund raiser that is. My heart goes out to Donna and I pray that all works out for her. It gets scary when you get up close to cancer – the day-to-day life of appointments, the demands and the uncertainty grinds you down at the very time when you need to be strong. I’ve had doctors argue in front of me abut the correct course of action and when you see how uncertain they can be as well, it is doubly hard.

    I’ve never participated in a silent auction, although I’ve been to one. Fifty bucks for 12 pies is an excellent price Mark. I’d go for that easily.

    The video was awesome – brought back a lot of memories. The women looked very comfortable and they did an excellent job.

    It’s wonderful that you have dedicated your time and blog to spreading the word. Great post Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think about you, Paul, when I write about Donna. I know you address health issues every day. How you keep your great attitude cheers me and is an excellent example for all people facing challenges like this. I wish you could have gone to the event with Karen and I to meet Donna and Sam to spread your wise thoughts, personality and general vibe. Thanks, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

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