Kelly’s Dream, a nonprofit foundation endeavoring to raise melanoma awareness and ease the financial and emotional strain of cancer, held its first-ever music festival fundraiser at Eastern Yacht Club in Essex on June 18.

“Kelly’s Dream Music Fest” was made possible through the arduous work of Kelly O’Donnell Ware, the nonprofit’s founder and event coordinator, along with a host of volunteers and partners. According to Ware, the event was a massive success, attracting more than 300 guests.

“It went well. It exceeded my expectations,” Ware said of the event’s outcome. “All in all, I can’t say one bad thing. And the feedback has been incredible.”

The six-hour event featured four musical performances – each lasting an hour-and-a-half – from local bands, including the Dave DeMarco Band, Remedy, Relicoustic and Mrs. Thatcher (Rob Fahey, Dennis Schocket, Dave Woodworth and Greg Schroeder).

Musical acts played the best of Classic and Modern Rock, British Rock and 1970s Acoustic Rock mixed with Country Pop for the guests’ listening pleasure. Kirk McEwen of 98 Rock Baltimore was the afternoon special guest host as the inaugural event also spotlighted a variety of food trucks, vendors and raffles.

“Saturday’s Music Fest exceeded our expectations. We took on this inaugural event with confidence and apprehension,” the nonprofit said in a June 20 Facebook post.

“The board worked tirelessly from day one of our commitment to it. It was a group effort and a lot of hard work. Eastern Yacht Club went above and beyond welcoming us. We were able to secure fantastic music and sound, sponsors who believe in our mission, vendors and food trucks who graciously participated, and a group of dedicated volunteers who gave 100 percent.

“The weather was nothing short of perfect, and the crowd was on point. The Kelly’s Dream family wants to thank each and every person who participated in the day. It takes an army and people like you to make the wheels of Kelly’s Dream continue to turn.”

Kelly’s Dream, based in Perry Hall, has served Marylanders since 2009.

Handling the festival was a little overwhelming at first, Ware said, but couldn’t have turned out any better – from the music, to the festivities, to the boat rides and more. She said she and her colleagues have already begun discussing how they could improve the event next year.

Most of the funds raised during the music festival will be used to advance Kelly’s Dream’s mission of easing the financial burden for cancer patients in Maryland while a small portion of the proceeds will go toward educational awareness and prevention, Ware said.

“When I get up to speak to people at these events, I make it very clear that because of their belief in our mission, that they’re a part of what we do and it’s a community act of helping our own neighborhoods and our state,” Ware told The Avenue News.

“It’s very important to me that people know this isn’t a one-man show or a small organization; it’s actually a community of people. They come and they support this, and the money raised – which was through their generosity – enables us to [provide] these needs to these patients.”

Learn more about the organization at

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