For the past two and a half years, SamCo Shag Club members have made it their mission to promote the dance while giving back to organizations in Sampson and elsewhere, one of its main fundraising efforts aiding a group of young children with cancer.
For the third year, the club will raise funds for Camp Kemo, one of the many programs put on by the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. It is a weeklong summer camp for patients ages 5-18 and their siblings.
The SamCo Shag Club’s event will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Moose Lodge, located at 2720 West Main St., Clinton. Behind the support of sponsor Ford of Clinton and others, the event will feature live and silent auctions, food, raffles and free prizes — as well as a band, a first for the club.
“This will be our third year,” SamCo Shag Club president and founder John Bradshaw. “The past two years we’ve basically had a DJ, live auctions and silent auctions. This year will be much the same but we will be doing it at the Moose Lodge, a bigger venue so we can accommodate more people, and we’re also adding a band this year.”
That band will be The Entertainers.
“They are one of the biggest and one of the better bands around right now,” Bradshaw attested. “We’re trying to attract more people. Obviously, the more people you have the more potential you have to raise funds.”
As with other fundraising efforts, the Camp Kemo benefit will include numerous donated items from more than a dozen local merchants, including gifts, gift cards, baskets and specialty items. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. All money, including ticket sales and the auctions, goes to the children at Palmetto.
“All the proceeds are going straight to Camp Kemo,” said Bradshaw.
Camp Kemo allows campers to swim, boat, hike and simply be children, with the ultimate goal being to provide a normal camping experience for children with cancer, as well as a respite for their parents, who know their children are in the hands of the same physicians, nurses and staff who provide their treatment throughout the year. The camp is overnight for four nights and hosts more than 100 children each year. The cost to send one child to camp is $500.
The cause is especially significant to Bradshaw and his family. Bradshaw’s older brother was born with cancer, only living to be a year old.
“My parents, growing up going to S.O.S. (Society of Stranders) in Myrtle Beach they were always a part of Camp Kemo, because it supports the kids with cancer. I’ve always been to the auctions and it’s touching to see a lot of shaggers and the beach music community giving so much money to these kids,” Bradshaw has said. “There are a lot of organizations that support children with cancer as far as their bills and things like that, but there is nothing that really gives them a lot of joy and happiness like camp.”
On the last Sunday of every S.O.S. — the two-week long festivities are held twice a year, once in the spring (Spring Safari) and one in the fall (Fall Migration) — Harold Bessent, the owner of Fat Harold’s Beach Club, raises money every year to benefit the camp. It was one of Bradshaw’s goals for a club in Sampson to be part of that effort.
SamCo has been for two years now.
Last year, the club raised $4,000 through its second-annual fundraising for Camp Kemo. That was up considerably from the $2,600 raised in 2013.
“We always have a goal to meet what we did the previous year,” Bradshaw said. “This year, I’d love to get $4,000 again.”
While there are numerous treasures up for bid at the Aug. 29 event, Bradshaw’s parents Jesse and Anna Bradshaw have given perhaps one of the largest — a five-day, four-night S.O.S. condo, a hot commodity for shaggers.
“It’s a huge event, tens of thousands of people, so there are limited places to stay in Myrtle,” Bradshaw said. “My mother and father did a Camp Kemo auction at Harold’s this year and won this condo. They donate it back to our Camp Kemo fundraiser to be auctioned off again. So for the shaggers that enjoy going to S.O.S. in the spring and the fall, they can come out and bid on that, helping kids and having somewhere to stay at the spring S.O.S.”
Bradshaw said he hopes people come out to support the effort as they have in the past. Over the past two and a half years, the community has not disappointed, he said.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the shag and beach music community, and the community in general, regardless of whether they’re into shag or beach music. Like the merchants around town — they may not shag or listen to beach music, but they’re willing to support their local fundraisers and charities. People have been really supportive of the Shag Club.”
Alongside Camp Kemo, Tim’s Gift in Clinton has been the other main beneficiary of the SamCo Shag Club, which has raised $3,000 in each of its “Tossing for Tim’s Gift” cornhole tournaments.
Last year, donations were also made to the Kyle Cashwell family, Hayden’s Journey of Inspiration, Women of Hope and the Sampson County Department of Aging. Additionally, the club rounded out 2014 with a Toys for Tots drive in conjunction with its Christmas Party, donating numerous gifts to the Department of Social Services.
A Turkey native, Bradshaw started SamCo Shag Club in January 2013 and held the first meeting in March 2013 at Coharie Country Club, drawing more than 150 people. Bradshaw said he wanted to promote the dance he loves and do so while involving, and helping, the community.
“By involving them in these different charities that we help out, it exposes the SamCo Shag Club as a social organization that likes to get together for good, clean fun and meet new people. And by having a charitable cause, it brings the community to the shag club and teaches them what shag is all about,” said Bradshaw. “By helping others, it makes people aware of the shag dance, beach music and it just brings the community together.”
The membership has stayed consistent ever since, staying above 100 since the club’s inception.
“I would say 100 members for this community is pretty good,” he said. “We hope to grow a little each year.”
For the first year, there were around 130 members and the club donated around $3,000, “a pretty good start,” he attested. Last year, the club donated almost $10,000 behind more public awareness and sponsorships.
“All of that just goes right back into the community,” he said.
For the Camp Kemo benefit, food will be served starting at 7 p.m. The band will start playing around 8 p.m. Tea will be served, but the festivities are BYOB. Those purchasing tickets at the door will get a free membership for the rest of the year.
Bradshaw said he is hoping for a good crowd, which will mean more money raised for worthy causes.
“We like to help out people in the community and the people who need it,” he said.
For more information on SamCo Shag Club. how to get involved or to purchase tickets for the upcoming Camp Kemo benefit, visit www.samcoshagclub.com or “Sam Co Shag Club” on Facebook, email [email protected] or call John Bradshaw directly at 910-990-4647.
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.