Cary-Grove grad Carone continues to fight pancreatic cancer

Preparing to lend hand at Shutdown Cancer Music Fest event

Rick Carone continues to smile. He continues to fight. And he continues to help others.

Carone already has beaten the odds by making it this long with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He knows the numbers, and only 18 percent of people at his stage survive a year after being diagnosed. It's already been longer than that.

Carone is still here, going strong.

Which means he is raring to go for the second Shutdown Cancer Music Fest, which takes place from 2 p.m. until midnight Oct. 4 at Wegener Farm on 2815 Barreville Road in Prairie Grove. There will be five bands playing, online and silent auctions for prizes and a helicopter golf ball-drop raffle.

“I pray to God I’ll be cured,” said Carone, a 1989 Cary-Grove graduate who played minor league baseball in the White Sox's organization. “People say I don’t look sick, and they can’t believe I have cancer. I am sick, but I want to be able to touch and help as many people as I can while I’m here.”

Carone is connected. He hangs out with country singer Luke Bryan, hunts with the Robertson brothers of Duck Dynasty fame and took C-G baseball coach Don Sutherland to Wrigley Field for batting practice with the Washington Nationals and his buddy Adam LaRoche.

For the Shutdown Cancer Music Fest, he has former New England Patriots tackle Matt Light coming to work as one of the emcees.

Tickets for the event are $100 a person and can be purchased online at Statistics indicate Carone's chance of being alive in five years are less than 1 percent. But he fights on. About 650 people attended last year’s event, and he hopes to at least reach that number again. The money raised will go to benefit two scholarships for C-G student-athletes, local families who are struggling with cancer and for the enhancement of C-G athletic facilities.

The Althea Grace Band, a local group, is one of the five bands performing. The other four are from Nashville, J.B. Aaron, Benton Blount, Andy Griggs and Brushville. B96 personality Rebecca Ortiz and stand-up comedian/emergency room doctor Maurice Loeffel III also will perform.

Helicopter rides can be purchased for the golf-ball drop, like a closest-to-the-hole competition.

“That really went well last year,” Carone said.

Carone played football and baseball at C-G, then played baseball at Mississippi and for the White Sox's organization. He recalled a story from last year’s event when Sutherland told a story from a baseball game against Woodstock in 1989. Sutherland said Carone was hit by a pitch, then proceeded to steal second base, third base and home after being hit.

While Sutherland spoke, a man arose in the crowd and said he was at that game. It was former Woodstock star Joel Bosman, who then shared some stories, along with a few tears, about the old days.

Carone has been busy the last year, hobnobbing with celebrities and raising money for cancer research. He wanted to do something after his parents died and plans on the music festival being an annual event where the community can get involved.

“We need to celebrate each other’s lives as much as possible,” Carone said.

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