CanJam is back!

CanJam, a fundraiser for children undergoing cancer treatment and their families, is being revived in honour of a longtime volunteer with the organization.


Sandra Allen became involved in Help A Child Smile when her own daughter was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1980s. Allen, a Brantford resident who was a Help A Child Smile board member for more than 20 years and served as its president for at least a decade, died in May 2014.

“She was an inspiring woman,” said Joyce Hutson, co-chair of Help A Child Smile. “She was an awesome leader who kept us on track. What was best for the families was always foremost for her.”

CanJam, a day of music and children’s activities, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Help A Child Smile since it was established about 30 years ago.

When the organizers of CanJam, Ted and Sue Lavell, retired a few years ago, the event went in another direction, said Hutson. From those changes the Moonstone Rising Music Festival, which still fundraises for Help A Child Smile, emerged two years ago and became a separate event.

Hutson and Beth Walsh, volunteer co-ordinator for Help A Child Smile, decided to resurrect the event in its original format – with music that appeals to an older crowd – and dedicate it to Allen.

“It was one of her favourite events,” said Hutson. “It was a natural choice to revive it in her honour.

“It’s a great fundraiser. People were asking about it. There aren’t a lot of events geared to the older population who were around for the music of the ’50s and ’60s.”

So, that’s what’s on the bill for this year’s CanJam, being held Saturday, Aug. 6, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 12 Catharine Ave.

For a $5 admission, people can enjoy ’50s and ’60s tunes, easy listening, early country, bluegrass and Motown. The Grand River Cloggers will also perform.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be a free Kids Zone with painting, a waterslide, a petting area with rescued animals and visits from a balloon artist.

Barbecued food will be available for purchase from noon to 8 p.m.

Past CanJam events have raised between $10,000 and $15,000 a year for Help A Child Smile.

“We get no government funding or corporate donations, so we rely solely on fundraisers and donations,” said Hutson.

She said a recent audit showed the organization, which has no employees and no office, used almost 94 per cent of all money raised to support children and their families.

Help A Child Smile is dedicated to children being treated for cancer at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

The organization funds day trips and activities for children and their families and weeklong vacations at Disney’s Give Kids The World Village in Orlando. It also helps with the significant day-to-day expenses, including parking, food and travel, of having a child in treatment, and funds medical procedures not covered by OHIP.

“We are quite unique in the way we support families,” said Hutson, who become involved in the organization after her granddaughter Caitlin died of cancer in 2009 when she was just five.

“We make sure children and families have the opportunity to forget about the hospital and just have a fun day.”

Tickets are also being sold for Help A Child Smile’s 2017 Daytona 500 raffle for a chance to win the ultimate fan experience for four people, a prize valued at more than $10,000. More information is available at