Holly Clegg (third from left) with a few of her many supporters during her cancer journey. Photo courtesy Holly Clegg.

Celebrate Holly Clegg with a concert fundraiser at the Varsity

“This is the time to keep on living, and not start dying.” That is the phrase that Holly Clegg repeated to Dr. Curtis Chastain on a friendly phone call just weeks ago. Clegg–a cookbook author, chef and former food columnist for inRegister–has spent the last year battling stomach cancer and was recently admitted to hospice. She and Chastain, a local doctor and V-Tones band member, have known each other for years, even writing a men’s health cookbook together last year. However, this call wasn’t just about catching up.

Chastain had a proposal. After weeks of wracking his brain for a way to honor Clegg, he and his friend and fellow bandmate Kyle Talbert had a eureka moment while biking together on a sunny afternoon. What better way to celebrate the author and perpetual optimist than a party?

“I texted her daughter Haley about the idea first and she said Holly would love the idea,” recalls Chastain. “When I spoke to Holly the next day, it was the best phone call I have ever had. She was so upbeat and loved the idea, so much so that she wanted to be there.”

Originally planning to host the event months from now in the fall, Chastain changed the plans without hesitation, knowing the uncertain future of Clegg’s condition. After reaching out to the Varsity Theatre, the date was set for August 1, with musical acts The V-Tones, Allison Collins and David St. Romain booked to play. In addition to celebrating Clegg, the night will serve to raise awareness for stomach cancer, as well as funds for Clegg’s newly formed Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“This won’t be the typical fundraiser with the obligatory auction and all of that,” explains Chastain. “It’s a night to celebrate and feel good about celebrating. Holly is challenging us to live.”

At the event, Clegg is planning to not only greet her guests and supporters, but also to make a speech about her journey and how her fund will help others in the future. Her presence, despite the complexity of her condition, will be made possible by one of Chastain’s generous patients who is donating his private jet to bring Clegg from Dallas to Baton Rouge.

“Things just came together,” remarks Chastain, noting that the fundraiser was meant to be. “Holly is my hero. She represents what I hope I would do, and what I think everyone hopes they would do: to go out making an impact on the people and the world around you.”

The event will run from 7 to 11 p.m. on August 1 at the Varsity Theatre. Tickets are available here, along with more information about Clegg, her research fund and sponsorships. And read more about Clegg and her boundless positivity in this story from the inRegister archives.