The inspiration came from a brave teen-aged girl. A University of Rochester singing group took it from there.
The YellowJackets, perhaps UR’s best-known a cappella group, will hold their annual spring concert on Saturday, April 2, at Strong Auditorium. Another benefit concert will take place three weeks later at Fairport High School, about 20 minutes east of the River Campus.
They started this fight against cancer after the death of Hannah Metzler, the beloved younger sister of YellowJackets singer Luke Metzler ’16. Hannah died of brain cancer two years ago.
Since Luke is graduating this year, the upcoming spring concert is extra special to the YellowJackets and the Metzler family. Eleven members will perform songs to celebrate Hannah’s legacy of giving and sharing. They are: Luke Metzler, Logan Stillings ’16, Joshua Huang ’16, Scott Abrams ’18, Gavin Baker ’19, Will Cunningham ’19, James Fosburgh ’19, Darren Huang ’19, Shurik Zavriyev ’19, Gapilan Sivasithamparam ’19 and Philip Milman ’19.
The idea of the concert came from Hannah’s courageous battle.
Hannah attended Fairport High and was actively involved in various campus activities—drama, choir, field hockey and more.
In the autumn of 2012, she began to experience dizzy spells at school. One time, she became dizzy when she served as goalie on the field hockey team. Not long after, she experienced a fainting spell in chemistry class. Her parents weren’t overly concerned at the beginning.
“We thought it might be that she wasn’t eating properly at breakfast or lunch,” says her dad, Mike.
However, things became worse when Hannah’s handwriting began to suffer.
Through magnetic resonance imaging, doctors discovered a brain tumor in Hannah’s lower right cerebellum, which was the root of her dizzy spells. She went through an immediate surgery and was given chemotherapy and radiation treatments throughout the fall. However, her illness returned in the summer of 2013. Although her family explored different clinical trials, none of the treatment worked effectively.
On March 27, 2014, Hannah died.
She was such a caring and generous young woman that she had decided to donate her organs to those in need and her body to scientific research. Although the autopsy showed that the tumor had spread through her brain stem and her body could not be used for medical research, she was able to give her corneas to a deserving recipient. Besides that, the samples of her brain tissue were provided to researchers in hopes of helping someone else in the future.
Inspired by Hannah’s spirit, the Metzler family founded the Hannah Metzler Memorial Fund, continuing to support cancer-related causes and other important endeavors that Hannah valued.
The Crush Cancer concerts is one of them.
During Hannah’s first stay in the hospital, Luke brought the YellowJackets to the hospital to serenade her. Hearing the beautiful songs, Hannah wanted to spread that encouragement and comfort to all kids in hospital. At her request, they serenaded the entire wing of sick children.
In order to make an impact on a larger cancer community, Hannah was planning something bigger than that. Therefore, Hannah’s Crush Cancer Concert was born. Luke helped her plan the concert, aiming to raise money for fighting cancer and helping people who are going through the same suffering.
The first concert in 2013 at Fairport High raised more than $18,000, and the second concert, in the wake of Hannah’s death, raised more than $30,000. Ever since the second concert, Hannah’s legacy of generosity has passed on. Each year the Metzler family holds a benefit concert at Fairport High School Auditorium to celebrate her giving spirit.
This year’s concert is on April 23. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults and will be available at Wegmans in early April. The Bill Tiberio Band will be performing in addition to the Yellowjackets, and there will be a few other acts as well. Doors will open at 1 p.m. and there will be lots of raffle and silent auction items to bid on.
Before that, the YellowJackets are planning something special as well. They invited the fantastic Tufts Beezlebubs to join them at this year’s spring concert. These gentlemen were runners-up on the first season of NBC’s The Sing-Off and also arranged and recorded the songs of the Warblers on the television show Glee. The YellowJackets themselves will perform some awesome covers of artists such as A Great Big World, Bruno Mars, and Justin Bieber.
Tickets are $7 for undergraduates, $10 for graduates/faculty/staff and $15 for general admission. All of the tickets can be purchased at Commons Market at Wilson Commons, and all sales go to the Hannah Metzler Fund.
For more information on the Cancer Crush Concert and the fund, please check here.
To commemorate his sister, Luke Metzler wrote a song called In the Springtime.
To listen to the song, click here.
Cover photo of YellowJackets
Front row, left to right: Logan Stillings, Will Cunningham, Cubby Sivasithamparam, Shurik Zavriyev, Joshua Huang.
Top row, left to right: Darren Huang, Scott Abrams, James Fosburgh, Luke Metzler, Gavin Baker, Philip Milman.
Photo credit: Leah Nason