MyMusicRx

Feb 09, 2016

MyMusicRx is the flagship program of the Children's Cancer Association (CCA) whose mission is to create bright moments of joy for kids and their families who face cancer and other serious illnesses.

It's a rare human who hasn't experienced the transformative power of music to make a bad situation better and these fine folks take that gift to hospital beds in the form of songs, sing-a-longs and instruments. (To get a better idea of what these incredible folks do watch A Day in the Life of a MyMusicRx Specialist here.)

With its deep connection to music and as one of the most inspiring (and Portland-based!) nonprofits around, Stumptown's support of MyMusicRx and CCA is a natural one. Matt Lounsbury, our VP of Retail and Business Development, first fell in love with CCA when his buddy Chris Funk of the Decemberists invited him to a "Live from the Heart" session with Frank Black. From then on, we’ve reached out to support these guys however we can.

This year, we’re partnering up with MyMusicRx to donate profits from all of our cafes nationwide on Valentine’s Day to contribute to their noble cause.

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MyMusicRx frequently hosts touring musicians coming through town to sing a couple songs and spin a tale captured on tape for sick kids who can’t leave the hospital. They also facilitate an online music festival called Bedstock, where musicians and writers play music and read stories from their own beds. All of this helps to dramatically improve the lives of these kids, helping to alleviate stress, depression and sleeplessness.

"Music can provide measurable results like better pain management and improved mood and relaxation," says Abby Guyer from CCA.

"But just as important is that music can transport a child and provide a distraction from the boredom and isolation of an extended hospital stay."

In further solidarity, we’ve also reached out to some of our pals in Portland and across the country to join us in donating a percentage of sales to help share the love on February 14 for MyMusicRx. Sixty businesses are participating this year and we’re thrilled.

Participating businesses include:

AL: Satellite Cafe (Birmingham); CA: Sidecar Doughnuts (Costa Mesa, Santa Monica) CT: Mrs. Green’s Natural Market (New Canaan); GA: Chrome Yellow Trading Co. (Atlanta); MA: Tatte Bakery (Boston, Brookline, Cambridge); MI: The Red Hook (Detroit, Ferndale); NC: Videri Chocolate Factory (Raleigh); NY: Hungry Ghost (Brooklyn); Mrs. Green’s Natural Market (W Village, Rye, Tarrytown, Mt. Kisco), Portland, OR: Black Wagon, Bowery Bagels, Bunk, Cadillac Cafe, Circa 33, Country Cat, Green Zebra Grocery, Nossa Familia, Olympia Provisions, Paddy’s Bar & Grill, Pine State Biscuits, Por Que No, Produce Row, Rudy’s Barbershop, Silk Espresso (Gresham), Sisters Coffee Co., Voodoo Doughnut, Whiskey Soda Lounge.

We stopped by for a "Live from the Heart" session with JD McPherson’s band and a chat with Abby Guyer from CCA to learn more about MyMusicRx. Watch the JD McPherson session here.

Tell us a bit about MyMusicRx and the history behind the program?

Our mission is to create transformative moments of joy for kids and teens facing cancer and other serious illnesses. We do this through music, friendship, play, and resources – focusing on joy in the moment and the idea that every child deserves a long wonderful life, or at the very least, a short wonderful life.

MyMusicRx is the flagship program under Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) which was founded in 1995 by Regina Ellis and her family after her five-year-old daughter Alexandra died of cancer. Music was incredibly important to them while Alex was in the hospital. They’d take out their songbooks, and guitars, and harmonicas and recreate those singing-around-the-campfire moments. They found that other kids, families, and doctors would hear the music coming from their room and come in and join them.

In 1995 no one was talking about joy, or music, in a hospital context and in starting CCA around her kitchen table, Regina set out to change the conversation about what pediatric cancer support services might look like for families like hers. MyMusicRx was CCA’s very first in-hospital program.

Can you tell us about the programming?

Our MyMusicRx anchor events are Bedstock, our online music festival where artists perform from their beds as a show of solidarity with sick kids spending the holidays in their hospital beds. This past year we had 36 bands participate including The Decemberists, Jim James, and Sevyn Streeter, along with 16 kids and 10 writers (Cheryl Strayed, Chelsea Cain, Carson Ellis) who read children’s books from their beds. The whole campaign is driven by social media with artists inviting their fans to join them in supporting MyMusicRx. This year we were fortunate enough to raise $32,945 including a 10K match from Converse.

We also host huge family rock show, the You Who Rock Show for Kids at SXSW each year with help from our partners FADER/Cornerstone and Converse. The You Who show are these awesome variety shows created by Chris Funk (The Decemberists) and visual artist Seann McKeel with giant owl mascots, a craft zone for kids, and grown up bands playing music that kids and their rocker parents will both like. Over the last two years Austinites have helped us raise 20K for MyMusicRx and we are looking forward to this year’s show on March 17th.

Right now we’re focused on VDay for MyMusicRx, a percentage of sales promotion that Stumptown is leading on our behalf. On Sunday February 14th Stumptown locations nationwide will be donating café profits to MyMusicRx. There are 58 locations across the country that will all be supporting us on Valentine’s Day. It’s pretty amazing!

How does music help these sick kids in the hospital?

MyMusicRx specialists play music for and with the kids to alleviate things like stress, depression, and sleeplessness. Music can provide measurable results like better pain management and improved mood and relaxation. But just as important is that music can transport a child and provide a distraction from the boredom and isolation of an extended hospital stay. MyMusicRx lets kids choose the music experience that feels right to them at that moment.

We have a few teens in particular who have learned how to play guitar in the hospital and it’s been amazing to see their talent and progression. I love when we film Bedstock videos with the kids and just knowing that their “in-bed” performances are going to live online at bedstockfest.com alongside performances from bands like BORNS, Lucius, or X Ambassadors. It’s an awesome way to show MyMusicRx in action and the amazing spirit of the kids we get to serve each day.

What other programs does CCA participate in?

In addition to MyMusicRx, our core program offerings include the Chemo Pal Mentor Program – which matches kids in treatment up with adult mentors who spend about 4 hours a month with them playing games, sharing hobbies, and giving parents a much needed break; the Alexandra Ellis Caring Cabin – a beautiful home on the Oregon Coast where families can connect with nature and make memories together outside of the hospital environment; and Link which provides families with essential needs support like gas cards, bathroom retrofits, new roofs, and holiday gifting support. CCA also publishes the Kids’ Cancer Pages, a national directory of pediatric cancer resources that’s sent free-of-charge to every pediatric hospital in the country.

Thanks guys! Learn more about MyMusicRx and CCA here.