My Story: I am Greg Chastain, founder of Voices of Hope.
In 2009 I was cast in a local production of Aida. It was a bittersweet time for me, because my mother was coming to the end of her battle with pancreatic cancer and because she had always loved to watch me perform we were hoping she’d have the chance to see me onstage one last time. Sadly, she died a week before the show opened, and I left the cast to go home to Indiana to honor and mourn my mother. She was an amazing woman, and also my biggest fan, and her death left a hole in my life.
After her funeral I was at loose ends, and the cast of Aida became a lifeline for me. They encouraged me to return to the show, offered me love and support, and made a place for me on-stage despite my time away.
Cast members reached out to me to share their own stories of loss, and this was when I realized that the family I had found in the theater could be a source of great healing. We had all been touched by cancer, and all of us wished there were something we could do in the fight against this disease.
So I put together a “little show.” A one time event. A concert in honor of my mom, produced and performed by my closest friends, that was to raise money for cancer research. My theater family responded with an energy and commitment beyond my greatest expectation, and we were able to donate $17,000 to cancer research.
From that first performance I knew this was too powerful to be a “one time event.” We are now a nationally recognized non-profit, and our total contributions to cancer research have risen to over a half million dollars. We have more than 100 active members, and many friends and allies who support us in our cause. With music as our voice, our performances bring healing and hope to all those whose lives have been forever changed by cancer. I know my mom will be smiling down on me always as we continue to raise our Voices of Hope.
We are ordinary people on an extraordinary mission,
and I am grateful that each day brings us close to a cure.