Our Spring Music Festival, May 1, 2016

Dear studio families,

When I started Kristina Lee Music 3 1/2 years ago, one of the visions I had was that there would be a philanthropic wing to this organization.

As a young musician, I always struggled about how relevant music was in being able to tangibly help people in need. The story goes in full circle when I found myself teaching music to street children in Beirut, Lebanon in 2010-2011 and realized that music was just as tangible, essential and powerful as food and water because music can restore human dignity, solidarity and imagination. And my hope and prayer is that as teachers, we will be able to cast the vision of not only the kind of musicians our students can become but also the kind of citizens of the world they can become.

Recently, I’ve learned about the great need in pediatric cancer research through Gloria who joined our teaching staff this year. Please read Gloria’s letter attached to this email (and also pasted below). And as the first step in our philanthropic work, we will be taking donations for pediatric cancer research at tomorrow’s recital. Cash and check donations will be welcomed.

Let’s make it our Spring Music Festival tradition to remember the blessings in our lives and remember to share that with the community and society around us.


Kristina Lee

When our son, Rhys, was diagnosed with leukemia last year, we had no idea what that really meant for him or for us. The reality didn’t hit me until the doctor restated over the phone that this meant Rhys had cancer of the blood. Because blood is everywhere, leukemias are pervasive cancers. There are no stages or surgeries to remove tumors. Kids are treated with extremely toxic drugs designed to permeate every cell in the body and the hard to reach places like the brain and CSF are treated directly through spinal injections. We’ve gone through some tough physical challenges over that past year and watched many kids we know go through the same and worse. Some of the kids we’ve known have already lost their battles and we know that many more won’t make it.

Yet, we’ve consider ourselves lucky that despite the toxic side effects, Rhys has a pretty good chance of winning this battle because his leukemia has been straight-forward  with no strange mutations or variants. Watching our boy go through months of misery, including constant vomiting, multiple transfusions, pain and isolation has not been easy. Unfortunately, there are not many treatment options for kids’ cancer. We hear all about organizations like the American Cancer Society and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raising so much money for cancer. What we’re not told is that over 50% of the ACS budget goes back to fundraising (with about 1% going to kids cancer issues) and less than 10% of LLS funding goes to kids’ cancer funding. Even the federal government only allocates 4% of cancer research funds to pediatric cancer. That means that the drugs that made my kid so sick are over 50 years old! Only 3 new pediatric cancer chemotherapy drugs have been developed into use over the last 50 years.

Our family wanted to do more than sit back and hope things went well. We want to make a difference in the world of pediatric cancer, so we chose to support St. Baldricks Foundation. Most people haven’t heard of this small organization because they don’t do a lot of marketing or keep tons of staff on the payroll. It’s mostly a volunteer driven organization but it’s one of the few charities that focuses on funding pediatric cancer research. Many of the cancer research projects here in Seattle at UW, Fred Hutch, and Childrens receive funding from St. Baldricks.

Last year my family raised almost $5K when 2 of our kids did a virtual shave event and then a summer garage sale. This past March our family, including Rhys, had our heads shaved down to stubble and in doing so raised over $35K for St. Baldricks.  http://www.king5.com/entertainment/television/programs/evening/mom-dad-and-their-3-sons-go-bald-for-a-good-cause/92926180

We don’t expect kids to get cancer, but they do. On average 300 kids are diagnosed everyday here in the US and 20% of those diagnosed don’t survive. By fundraising for St. Baldricks, our family hopes to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and awareness for an issue that many people don’t give a second thought to until they hear those dreaded words: “You need to pack your bags and take your child to Childrens Hospital’s Hem-Oncology as soon as you get off the phone.”