Eric Dunn (left), founder of the Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation, introduces cancer survivor and NFL player Shon Coleman (second from the right) as bluesman Bobby Rush and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. join in the salute. (Screen capture)

by Sydney Jones — 

Friends and family were able to enjoy the soulful sound of Memphis Blues while also getting a taste of bourbon samples and barbecue at the Memphis Barbecue Blues and Bourbon Festival hosted by the Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation at Grind City Brewing Co.

The Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation hosted the event (July 3) to raise money for children with stem cell cancer and their families. The foundation also raises money to sustain families going through bone marrow treatment.

Founding member Eric Dunn got involved when his goddaughter needed a bone marrow transplant. During that time, the family struggled financially and Dunn noticed there were more families dealing with the same financial problems.

“Why not create a foundation that can help someone that’s going through the same issues? That’s looking for hotels and can’t pay for them. That’s gotta pay $300-plus for medication. That need food and beverages all while taking care of their own bills at home,” Dunn said.

The average bone marrow surgery costs about $380,000 per patient. Insurance only covers about 80 percent of the costs. The Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation covers the remaining 20 percent by partnering with different agencies to ensure the rest of the cost is sustainable.

The foundation also used the holiday-weekend event to honor San Francisco 49ers player Shon Coleman, who was once a St. Jude patient and is now the first NFL player in history to play as a cancer survivor. The Shelby County Board of Commissioners declared July 3 as Shon Coleman’s Day and the foundation will host the Memphis Barbecue Blues and Bourbon Festival annually to honor him.

Radio personality Michael Adrian Davis and Larry Dodson (right), former lead singer for The Bar-Kays, share an impromptu collaboration via social media. (Screen capture)

The Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation is working on partnerships with more agencies to host more fundraising events.

People can donate through Cashapp to $BoneMarrow901 or go to the Tennessee Bone Marrow Foundation Facebook page.

(Sydney Jones, who is on track as a May 2023 graduate of Clark Atlanta University, is a summer intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)