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Dennis DeYoung to Play Benefit Gala for Moms for Mikey/Mikey Czech Foundation

Dennis DeYoung, center. With permission from DennisDeYoung.com
Dennis DeYoung, center. With permission from DennisDeYoung.com
This November, Dennis DeYoung comes to Darien to help raise money for a very special cause. The lead singer of Styx will arrive for a very special, intimate concert to help raise money with Moms for Mikey for the Mikey Czech Foundation in remembrance of an 11-year-old New Canaan boy who lost his life to a rare brain tumor. 

James Michael "Mikey" Czech was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive type of brain tumor, on January 6, 2008, his 11th birthday. 

"On his 11th birthday, Mikey was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer," said his father, Steve Czech. "It was extremely rare. There was no remedy. There was no cure. Kids are diagnosed, and then they die in a horrific nine-month process."

Mikey died September 7, 2008. That summer before his passing, Steve and his wife Jennifer started the Mikey Czech Foundation as an institution "dedicated to pediatric brain tumor research." Over the last five years, they've managed to raise more than $2 million through the organization. In April, the group made its first $500,000 donation to the Harvard Medical School/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, whose mission is to develop remedies and cures for all pediatric brain tumors.

"We want to raise awareness and raise cash," said Czech. "We have a couple of events every year, but our signature event is with Moms for Mikey every November. This year, rather than have the same old auction and dinner, we wanted to change the format so people didn't grow tired of it." 

That change comes in the form of Dennis DeYoung, lead singer of Styx with hits like ‘Come Sail Away’, ‘Babe’, ‘The Best of Times’, ‘Mr. Roboto’, and many more. Czech met DeYoung at his 50th birthday party this year. Czech's wife was determined to throw him a party, he said, but the stipulation was that Czech wanted to pick the entertainment. When DeYoung heard Mikey's story, he was moved. 

"He's a native Chicagoan like [both Czech and his wife,]" he said. "He's a great family man and when he heard we were looking for a performer for our annual signature event, he said he would be more than happy to do it. And we had such a great time at my party we couldn't wait to have him come back."

On November 16, DeYoung will play at the Woodway Country Club in Darien. At $225 for tickets, concert-goers will be treated to a cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 p.m., heavy hors d'oeuvres, a silent and live auction and then the concert, which begins at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at MikeyCzech.org and those interested should RSVP by November 11. 

Dr. Mark Kiernan, MD, PhD, director pediatric neuro-oncology center at the Harvard Medical School/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will be the featured speaker. 

"We expect to be completely sold out," Czech said. "The feedback has been overwhelming so far."

Czech, who contributes "substantial" personal funds to the organization through his work as a hedge fund manager, said he hopes the first $500,000 donation to the Harvard Medical School/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is just the first of many to come. He hopes events like November's concert will continue to draw great support for the cause. 

"We had to raise enough money to make the donation significant," he said. "You can't just write off a $25,000 check and be done with it. In order to do this right, we wanted our first donation to be important. We've been raising funds over the last five years and now we're beginning to dole it out."

Czech said the donations are incredibly important and for the amount they are donating, he was able to leverage himself into a position where results could be required. To that end, Czech said the group will receive updates on a clinical trial the donation will fund that will allow, for the first time, for the rare type of cancer with which Mikey was diagnosed to be biopsied and studied. 

"There's been no movement on that front, for that specific disease's research," he said. "The funds are being used to support a clinical trial that will allow, for the first time, to biopsy and study the mutations that make up the tumor and identify them.Then, it will be possible to take those findings and compare them to mutations that cause other kinds of cancer and look for similarities in both the disease and, hopefully, the medications used to treat them, to see if there are other methods applicable to fighting this type of cancer."

Czech said it has never been possible to fund the biopsy of these tumors prior to the donation the foundation is making. Without a greater knowledge of how Mikey's tumor worked, kids are diagnosed, treated with chemotherapy and ultimately perish. 

"So this is huge," he said. "It opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for finding a way to treat them."

Czech thanked the New Canaan and surrounding communities for their continued support with the cause. 

"The community could not be more supportive," he said. "I always refer to New Canaan and the whole area as our 20,000-member family. They were, and continue to be, extremely supportive. They've been absolutely wonderful."

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