12The thing about the Karen Chandler Trust — that thing that most people, like the members of Cape Beard or musician Greg Adair, mention when the organization comes up — is that it operates with zero overhead. Everyone who works in the organization volunteers.
All of the money raised by the members of the trust is given to families fighting cancer within Cumberland County. Each year the trust can help cancer patients within Cumberland County with $120,000 to $130,000.
“Every dime we raise goes to patients. We cover rent, mortgages, utilities and transportation,” said Mike Chandler, founder of the Karen Chandler Trust or KCT. “When we run out of funds, we stop.”
The only requirements are they live in Cumberland County and have a letter from the treating physician stating they are in active treatment. The trust began in 1999 and was named for local musician Karen Chandler who developed breast cancer and saw overwhelming support from the community when her disease took her ability to work away.
The local musicians got together and did a number of shows to help Karen with her financial needs. Eventually, Karen succumbed to her disease but her brother and dad couldn’t forget the help she received when she was alive.
“We were so moved by what the local community did for my sister. We asked what we could do to give back,” said Chandler.
“ … Here we are 25 years later, still doing the same thing — trying to give back to the community.”
The trust began with $1,300. Initially, Chandler said, they were only trying to do a “little bit.”
“Lord knows it kind of snowballed,” he said.
Chandler said they often get calls in the middle of the night. Once a cancer patient had to call them at night in the middle of winter because gas had been turned off at that patient’s home. Over the years, Chandler says the organization has given about two million dollars back to the community.
“We have no paid staff,” he said. “But we have a wonderful board.”
One of the annual events the trust does is a music benefit down by the Cape Fear River. This year the event will be hosted at Campbellton Landing on May 19 starting at 10 a.m. and ending around 7:30 p.m.
“Music has the ability to bring us together and create a sense of belonging,” said Cindy Mangiboyat, Chairman of the Board for KCT. “It is my goal to harness that energy and unite our community and empower them to give back.”
Mangiboyat said she hopes that by organizing this event each year, the organization will create a platform for people to connect, share their passion for music and experience “the joy of togetherness.” This year there might even be a guest appearance for the event.
“Rumor has it the original Carolina Girl, Terri Gore, will be making an appearance,” said Mangiboyat.
The event will feature five bands in total including Rivermist, Reflections II, Classic Soul, The Holiday Band and Band of Oz as the headliner. Greg Adair, musician and member of Rivermist, said he is excited for another year at the event.
Adair does a lot of work for the trust and is part of the board. He does most of the approaching bands for this event. This year Adair is even donating his time for the concert.
“ … But I’m making sure my guys get paid,” he said.
Adair said the event is always looking for more volunteers to help. The price of admission is a $20 donation but groups can purchase a VIP table at the event for $500. Tables will seat eight and will include a meal and their name on the banner.
Adair said they encourage event goers to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Tickets can be purchased at the event or in advance through Eventbrite at https://bit.ly/44r7nGu
Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
This year, the members of the trust are hoping to raise about $8,000 to $9,000 at the event. Most of the bands will be playing beach music but there will be a variety band bringing an array of music from the Temptations to Bruno Mars.
Mangiboyat, Chandler and all the musical talent invite anyone within the community to come out, support the organization and in doing so, support the cancer patients within Cumberland County.
“We need the community's help to sustain these needs,” said Mangiboyat. “My motto is, ‘No one fights alone.’”

(Photo: Karen Chandler was a local musician who found help in the community when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her brother, Mike Chandler, has since been donating money to cancer patients throughout Cumberland County in her honor.  The Karen Chandler Trust Beach Music Festival is an annual event to raise money.  File Photo)

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