Backyard Broadway, the performing fundraiser group of teens was at it again this weekend! They performed another fundraising event – this time for the Variety Club of Buffalo! Two performance were held at the ATA Theatre on Main Street in Williamsville on Sunday November 2nd. Throughout the day, people were able to stop by and take chances on over 50 great raffle items that they all collected.
This fundraiser was their 3rd one in just five months. Backyard Broadway has about twenty teenagers, representing ten different schools throughout Western New York. They are notorious for performing some of their favorite Broadway Musical Numbers during their events.
With the school year in session, they are all operating on overload these days. They are grateful to the Artistic Director from ATA, Dina Slawson and her staff who donated the use of theatre and even offered some coaching to the kids for this show.
It is a lot of fun, but the efforts of these kids should not be overlooked. Preparing for these events is very involved and time consuming for these teens. With their schoolwork and so many other extracurricular activities, people always ask, “What drives these kids to keep doing these?” Camryn Clune, the founder of the group states, “We are just a group of performing art students who wanted to use our talents and love for theatre to help to those in need.” “It’s definitely not easy, but we do enjoy it and we learn so many life lessons as we go through the process. We are experiencing so much right now and that is priceless. But what it’s really about though – is how we can make a difference in someone’s life. THAT keeps us going.”
What’s quite interesting is what many people don’t know – how Variety Club got started. Variety, the Children’s Charity, was founded in Pittsburgh in 1928. An abandoned baby, left in a THEATRE in Pittsburgh, was “adopted” by eleven Godfathers. The woman left a note stating she chose them because “she knew theatre people were good people.” (They certainly are!) From the desperate plight of a heartbroken mother who could no longer care for her infant, has emerged the “Largest Children’s Charity in the World” with 43 Tents, as the Chapters are known, throughout the Free World. The sole commitment of each Tent is aid and service to children; the sick, the handicapped and the underprivileged in each locale. Variety Club’s Buffalo/Niagara chapter, or tents as they are called, was founded on 12 May, 1934. What is also quite interesting is most of the fund-raising during that era was done through “theatre collections and dinner parties.” Just like these kids are doing….
There was an added twist at this event too. While a few of the parents were having lunch in between performances, they were talking about Variety Club and who exactly they are and what they do. As they were talking – a woman sitting close by overheard their conversation. She felt compelled to chime in. It just so happens, this woman – Sue Mason was President of the Variety Club in the early 1980’s. She has been with them for over 47 years and is still involved with them today! She did not know that just 50 feet away was an event that was happening solely for Variety Club. The insisted to come and be our VIP guest for the second show. She was invited to get up at the end of the show and draw some raffles tickets. But Sue didn’t just pick raffles, she started to talk. She shared some heartfelt thoughts about the show and about what these kids are doing. She was brought to tears (and brought audience members to tears) when she stated “I am just honored to have been able to watch these talented kids who are fortunate enough to be ABLE to do these things and to help those who are not.”
The group raised over $6,000 for Variety Club at this event.
Thank you for your consideration!