Kevin Daniel: Musical Ambassador for The James
At age 26, professional musician and James Ambassadors Society member Kevin Daniel has already achieved many of his dreams. Along with receiving a scholarship at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Granville, Ohio, native has released several extended-play records with platinum award-winning producers, toured with Javier Colon (winner of NBC’s “The Voice”), and had his song “Guarded” featured on the TV series “The Vampire Diaries.”
But Kevin has also encountered some intense challenges. In 2004, while he was still in high school, his father, Patrick, went in for a routine checkup and learned that he had a particularly virulent form of throat cancer. “It was a real shock,” Kevin recalls. “They did a biopsy thinking that it was nothing, and he ended up going through very difficult treatments.” Patrick received care at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), and today he is cancer-free.
But as sometimes happens with life and art, Kevin turned the experience into musical magic, a song “Brave.” “About a year ago, I was having conversations with a friend about going through tough times,” he recalls. “I kept coming back to my dad and the courage he and my family displayed and what we went through during his illness.” Unsure of what to do with a video he’d made of the inspirational and moving melody, he showed it to fellow Granville resident and assistant director of development at the OSUCCC – James, Nan Steyn. “She shared it with The James staff and they loved it, so I decided to release it” as a downloadable song and a video with 50 percent of all proceeds from downloads going to the OSUCCC – James. The video went viral, and within 24 hours of the song’s release on iTunes, it “charted” at No. 33. Kevin also performed “Brave” at the 2012 Cancer Survivors Day and at The James Ambassadors Society Fall Reception that year.
Although The James Ambassadors Society was originally founded in 2012 to maintain involvement of former James Foundation Board members and their spouses, it has already expanded to include Community Partners as well as individual donors along with community advocates and leaders. So Kevin was a natural and enthusiastic recruit. “Ambassadors work toward educating their family, friends and colleagues about the research, programs and care taking place at The James,” explains Mandy Porcher, assistant director of development and James Foundation Board liaison. Unlike other fundraising endeavors, which are usually done in a group, “Ambassadors reach out individually” and can participate by touring the labs, hosting an educational dinner or, like Kevin, releasing a hot-selling inspirational single.
“There are good people at The James,” adds Kevin. “I’m honored to help in any way I can.”