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Rock the '80s while Helping Local Residents Battling Cancer

by on March 22, 2014 8:00 AM

If you're a fan of music from the 1980's, you can rock out Saturday while helping local residents who are battling cancer.

The "Rock the 80's" event kicks off at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre with a reception beforehand at Café 210. For the second year in a row, the event will feature local bands playing the best hits from the 80s.

All proceeds benefit the Bob Perks Fund, a non-profit organization that assists cancer patients with financial challenges. Doreen Perks started the fund in 2005 after her husband, Bob Perks, died from skin cancer. He was 42.

Prior to his diagnosis, Bob was on a mission to help those who were suffering from cancer. A State College native and Penn State graduate, he was a founding member of Coaches vs. Cancer.

Doreen Perks carried on her husband's work and the Bob Perks Fund is expected to reach a $1 million fundraising milestone later this year.

"Any time that you can see the impact you've had on some of the families that we work with and how much they appreciate what you do it's a very therapeutic feeling," Doreen says. "It's almost like you have turned something awful into something good."

Still, it's not always easy.

"There are times I can look at situations that come across my desk and what people are going through and it's a real déjà vu. ... It's almost depressing because it brings back so many bad memories," Doreen says.

What keeps her going is the knowledge that her work is helping other families that are facing difficult times. More than that, her children, ages 9 and 12, keep her going.

"Life just has to go on, for me, for them. ... It doesn't mean there aren't times when I'm sad, but life goes on," she says. "We just try to live our life. This is our new normal."

As part of moving on, Doreen is taking a small step back at the fund. She recently hired a part-time executive director to help carry the workload. Norma Keller, who retired as CEO of Youth Service Bureau after 30 years, offers new ideas and office support, Doreen says. "It's proven to be such a great move. She just brings so much experience and enthusiasm."

Doreen encourages folks to come out and enjoy the second annual Rock the 80s event, not only to help a good cause, but to experience good entertainment, too. "It is just so much fun. People will be dancing all night," she says.

Last year, the event raised $5,000 for the Bob Perks Fund. This year's goal is $15,000.

"I feel very confident that we can do that," she says.

For ticket information and other event details, click HERE.

To make a separate donation to the Bob Perks Fund, click HERE.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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