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Party with a purpose: Cape Ann Big Band swings into Shirley


There are certain sounds associated with late spring: Peepers, bird song, lawnmowers. On Friday, May 30, another sound will herald the start of summer: The Cape Ann Big Band (CABB). The world-renowned big band will perform at the Bull Run Tavern as a fundraiser for the Blister Buddies MS Challenge Walk.

The Cape Ann Big Band has been known to delight sold-out audiences with jazz, swing, soul, and rock n’ roll that brings attendees back in time – and makes them want to dance. The May 30th event at the Bull Run not only includes the toe-tapping music of the CABB, but dinner as well. Tickets are $35 each and include a buffet dinner, concert and dancing.

So why would a band as well known as the CABB do a fundraising event in Shirley? “MS is a cause near and dear to our hearts,” said band leader Carlos Menezes. He explained that several people close to band members have been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), and “this is something we’re happy to do.”

The Blister Buddies MS Challenge Walk team consists of local residents who have committed to walking 50 miles this fall to raise funds for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms include fatigue, numbness/ tingling, vision problems, cognitive changes, difficulty walking, spasticity and pain. There is no cure for MS.

The Blister Buddies team was started 10 years ago by Pepperell resident Patricia Thorpe. Thorpe was diagnosed with MS several years ago, but used the Challenge Walk as an “icebreaker,” she said. “I didn’t know how to tell my family and friends I had this disease, so I signed up to do the 50 mile walk. That way, when anyone asked me why I was walking 50 miles, I could say, ‘I have MS.’ ” What Thorpe didn’t expect was how many family members and friends would sign up to walk with her. “The Blister Buddies team is incredible,” she said. “These people have changed my life – and the lives of many, many people living with MS.”

Thorpe estimates that the Blister Buddies have raised over $500,000 in the 10 years they have been walking. “Ten years, 500 miles, $500,000. When I think about it, I am overwhelmed by what my team has done,” she said. Team members include Dolores Alberghini, Rhonda Alberghini, David and Marie Allen, Dave Alexander, Steve Catalano, Brooke Charron, Len Crossman, Kathy Daly, Mary and Rich Garabedian, Judy and Larry Guertin, Susan and Tom Hadley, Mark Hussey, Audrey LaRosa, Al and Nancy Jewers, Paul and Paulette Leite, Carl Lisa, Andrew Mahoney, Jim Mahoney, Elja and Vito Piscitello, Cate Swarce, Joan Pena, Jimmy Pinard, Marie Pinard, Jo-Anne Poirier, Kaitlyn Proctor, Lisa Rolfe, Chris Sargent, Donna Savary, Deb Seeley, Craig Thorpe, Patricia Thorpe and Doreen Quintiliani.

For tickets to the Blister Buddies Swing into Summer Bash, please call 978-433-9093 or contact The Bull Run at (978)425-4311. Tickets will be available at the door; however, seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged.

For information on MS, or how you can help, visit