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28 May 2021

Farewell Reunion, last Friday in May

Every year since 2002 friends, family and musicians from near and far have gathered at the Grace Church in Sheldon on the Friday night prior to Memorial Day to enjoy the beautiful, rustic, one-of-a-kind church with the famous antique organ.  It has been a concert, a potluck, a community gathering, and always one of the 2 major fundraising projects for the Tom Sustic Fund.

Because of the pandemic, last year the music happened online thanks to the Zeichner Trio and the Young Tradition Youth Commission.  For the first time in 20 years, it’s not happening tonight, 5/28/21.  For his parents, it is the 1st time we have not gathered in this way since Tom died 7/4/01, 20 years ago.

Grace Church has been our loyal partner every year since we started 19 years ago.  This year would have been called the 19th.  The first one happened, but it wasn’t called a reunion – we started the series 20 years ago.

The photo of Tom was taken almost exactly 20 years ago, May 2001, when he was 16 years old.  He died on July 4th, just a few weeks after the photo was taken.  He had spent the previous 2 years relentlessly staying a step or two ahead of leukemia.

Ironically it was not leukemia specially that was the final battle Tom couldn’t win – and it is now a virus that breaks the 20-year Farewell Reunion concert sequence.  We were determined to go on then, and are determined to go on still.  If you’ve been a contributor and/or have attended the concert in the past, thank you.  If not, we hope you’ll have the opportunity to join us in 2022.

The Tom Sustic Fund supports families with children with life-altering conditions, including cancer.  Approximately $100,000 has been distributed since 2001.  Support from the Farewell Reunion concerts, and the Mardi Gras party in Burlington in late winter, families get support for things like income loss, utility bills, rent, co-pays for medical procedures, house modifications, car repair, and travel expenses.

Here is part of a note from a family who has gotten support from the fund…… ‘Thank you so much for the check. We just came back from Boston for testing and to meet the radiation oncology team. We had to stay in a hotel for 5 days and the money you sent helped!  What a kind, generous gift to help us stress less than we already are. Thank you for helping us and other families.’

We have always lit a candle at the Farewell Reunion concerts as a way to hold these children and their families in our thoughts, today and every day.  If you can do the same tonight, from wherever you are, we can still be together, virtually.

Contributions to the fund help support the work, more needed now than ever –  via PayPal at PayPal.me/YTVermont or by mail: Tom Sustic Fund, PO Box 163, Fairfax, VT 05454 (make check out to ‘YTV’, write TS Fund in memo section.