Lee's Summit Contestant on singing show gives back with cancer benefit concert
March 10, 2012
By Mary Pechar
You fight your way past 150,000 people or so auditioning to be on American Idol. You make it to Hollywood, the top 80 candidates, an incredible feat. But when your journey ends, what’s next? For Lee’s Summit North graduate, Luke Minx, you appreciate your blessings by passing them on to a young fan and his family.
While being on American Idol was a dream come true and Luke is very proud of what he accomplished, he quickly realized this is a show and nothing makes a good show like drama. In a note to his family and supporters, Luke said, “Well ... It has been a crazy week and a lot has happened, but sadly this is where I take my leave from American Idol. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. For some groups, or group members, they used their drama to get more camera time, but for myself, I would never compromise my image on such a large stage just to make it through to the next round. I don’t want Idol to tell my story for me; I want to be the one to tell it... So this summer I will be releasing an album, music videos and much more. I want to say thank you all for the support. It’s one reason I made it this far knowing my family, friends, and city is behind me. I love you all, and trust me ... this is just the beginning ... ”
Luke is studying musical theatre at Point Park University in Pittsburg PA. While he loves his studies, he misses time with his family and friends back home. So for spring break – which started March 5 – there was no place he wanted to be more than back home.
The Thursday before he headed home, Luke had a wild idea. On his Facebook group dedicated to his American Idol experience, he found a someone with a familiar name. Jonas Borchert, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Pleasant Lea Middle School, was a friend of Luke’s younger brothers. As Luke caught up with Jonas, he was struck by everything that Jonas has been going through. Having recently written a new song, “Hold On,” he knew he wanted to dedicate it to Jonas.
“I’ve never had anything that tough to go through,” Luke said.
As LS Tribune readers will remember, Jonas is suffering from a very rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. As Luke caught up with Jonas and his family, he knew he could make a difference in their lives.A benefit concert was arranged by “Team Luke.” Austin Holt, from CEAH Realtors, ran point, encouraging Living Stones Community Church to donate a venue, and with the help of Rachel Holt from Salt and Light Photography, there were flyers and coverage on the web and Facebook announcing the benefit concert.
But Luke wasn’t done there, On Monday, Luke was up at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time to get to the airport for his flight home. With weather delays, Luke got a late start on a day filled with meetings and interviews. Spending that evening at home with his family was a rare treat he greatly enjoyed. But bright and early Tuesday, Luke was in the studio recording a benefit CD featuring songs from his Christmas CD and others, including “Hold On.”
He allowed two days for recording and making sure each track was just right. On Thursday, the discs were printed, ready for the benefit concert, where you could get your own copy and an autograph for a donation to Jonas. That is all it costs to attend the concert, a donation to Jonas. Every cent raised Friday night went to Jonas and his family.
Jonas suffered from some intense headaches that last summer that were finally diagnosed as Ewing’s Sarcoma. He underwent surgery early in July and began his chemotherapy shortly after. Because of the location of the tumor, radiation treatment was extremely tricky and potentially disfiguring. Jonas had already lost the vision in one eye, which they were afraid would become a permanent loss with radiation. With a lot of research and consultation his medical team at Children’s Mercy, the family decided Jonas’s best option was a relatively new type of radiation called photon radiation therapy. One of the few places to offer this advanced form of treatment is MD Anderson in Texas.
The family prepared for months of separation and expense. Friends rallied and a series of fundraisers last fall allowed Jonas and his mom Kristen to spend about three months living in Texas while Jonas underwent both chemotherapy and photon radiation treatments.
Last month, Kristen posted, “We are delighted to share with you all the latest news from Jonas’s mid-treatment scans. The tumor is greatly diminished! In some places (because the tumor is not spherical) the tumor has shrunk as much as 50%! The test findings also show that the cancer has not metastasized anywhere else in his body. Not to the lungs or the bones. They are so certain of this that they are skipping one of the major scans altogether. Woo-Hoo!!! This means that the protocol is doing exactly what it should be ... ”
While Jonas is back home finishing his chemotherapy, the bills are now just arriving from Anderson. Luckily, the Borcherts have good health insurance, but it does not even begin to touch the cost. For just the chemotherapy and radiation – no tests, no doctors, no hospitalization costs – the AFTER insurance cost is $200,000, so it’s easy to see the importance of Friday night’s benefit concert, the Melanie Grace Kickin It benefit at Lee’s Summit High School that choose Jonas as this year’s recipient. How do they cope?
“We had to figure out how to pay the orthodontist,” said Kristen. “So we will have to figure out how to pay this.”
Jonas was so honored to have “Hold On” dedicated to him. The thought of a concert in his honor was great motivation going into another round of chemotherapy. In fact, Jonas requested it be moved a few days instead of having it as scheduled the day of the concert. Jonas needs to be masked and take every precaution possible to avoid disease and infection, but missing the concert was not going to happen.
While Jonas is mid-way through the treatment, and the constant worry and stress is wearing on Mom and Dad.
“You get to that place where you have been strong for so long that it just gets really hard,” said Kristen.
But at the same time, she is quick to point out the growth and maturity she sees blooming in her daughters. Her oldest, Brette, put her life on hold to be there and help her parents with little sister, Blair. She is now working, living on her own and finalizing plans for college. And Blair, who had always stayed home with mom, is blossoming in pre-school.
Friday night’s concert was a time of friendship, love and support. That is what a real American Idol does on his spring break.