Comedy show Crack up Cancer to benefit Looney Legacy and superhero Alex

Even a superhero (and his family) can need help, especially with the bills.

Diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, Alex Silvia-Rogers, the 16-year-old Somerset resident nicknamed superhero Alex, is back home away from home, Boston Children’s Hospital. He recently received a stem cell transplant. His current planned hospital stay for chemo, testing and monitoring, his mother Beth Rogers said, is at least six weeks, but could be much longer. Doctors, she said, told her to “prepare for anything” in terms of time.

A special education teacher at the Therapeutic Day School at Stone School in Fall River, Rogers has not worked since April 29, 2021, the day Alex, who has Down syndrome, was diagnosed with leukemia. She also had to give up her part-time tutoring to be with Alex almost 24 hours a day.

Rogers’ sick leave ends in May. Non-medical expenses – meals, gas, car maintenance, parking, etc. – will continue, as will the day-to-day expenses of living and raising a family. Rogers and Cassie Placido, Alex’s stepmother, have five other children in their home south of town. “It all adds up pretty quickly,” Beth said.

The Somerset community has been very friendly and supportive. In 2020, Alex was grand marshal of the city’s Musictown Parade. The Elks Club hosted a fundraising spaghetti dinner. The Lions Club donated money. And recently, a landscaper working near Rogers’ house handed him $100, out of the blue. “You see the best in people. It’s amazing,” Beth said.

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"Super hero" Alex Silvia Rogers rode in style as the Grand Marshal of the 48th Musictown Parade in Somerset on Sunday October 17.

Fundraising for the planned comedy show

More financial help is on the way, thanks to a former resident of Assonet who lost both parents to cancer in the first decade of this century. Resident of Tampa, Florida, Jack Bevilacqua founded and runs “Crack Up Cancer,” which stages for-profit comedy shows. A performance is scheduled for Saturday, June 4 at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River.

The beneficiaries are superhero Alex and the Looney Legacy Foundation, established in memory of former Apponequet Regional High School coach and educator Peter Looney, who died of cancer. A 1988 graduate of Apponequet, Bevilacqua is the cousin of Narrows executive director Patrick Norton, who lost his mother to cancer.

Three comedians – Lenny Clarke, Christine Hurley, Mike McCarthy – are scheduled to perform. Established in 2007, Crack Up Cancer, Bevilacqua said, has grown from 85 attendees and $1,800 raised to 800 attendees and $40,000 raised, all at Tampa venues. This year marks CUC’s first expansion, with three shows: Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Fall River.

McCarthy, of Fairhaven, is donating his talents.

Bevilacqua said he had cycled in the Pan Am Fundraising Challenge three times, but was not comfortable soliciting donations. His desire to continue helping families affected by cancer prompted him to start Crack Up Cancer. He said he likes the idea that donors get what they pay for.

“And it just kind of took off,” he said.

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how to help

Bevilacqua said he learned the story of the superhero Alex by visiting the Facebook page that Placido created for publicity updates.

Visits to Alex’s Hospital and Jimmy Fund Clinic were a combination of day trips, short stays, medium stays and long stays. In October, Beth said, Alex underwent 15 spinal taps for chemotherapy. The stem cell transplant earlier this month involved six hours of fusion.

While in the hospital, Rogers said, one of Alex’s favorite modes of entertainment is watching cooking shows. He is a big fan of Guy Fieri’s “Chopped” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, “Beating Bobby Flay” and old episodes of Emeril Lagasse’s shows.

Those who know Alex shouldn’t be surprised that he’s become a celebrity at Children’s Hospital and his room is a popular stop for staff, especially after most patients call him one night. “Wherever he goes, he touches everyone,” Beth recently said from Alex’s bedroom. ” He’s funny. He organizes dance parties here.

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To purchase tickets or for the June 4 show and for more information, visit Tickets are $28 in advance and $30 the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Unlike most of his previous shows in Tampa, Bevilacqua said this event should be more “jeans and t-shirt.”

A contractor contractor for a national health plan, Bevilacqua said it has already secured commercial sponsorships for June 4 from VRI, Carecentrix, Papa, Inc., Shearwater Health and Great Speech.

Javier E. Swan