Fundraiser for late Rush drummer Neil Peart benefits RVH cancer centre

(Left to Right) Lance Kasten, AN4N organizer, Nancy Peart Burkholder, Judy Peart Howe, Tracey McClelland, AN4N organizer . Supplied by Nancy Peart Burkholder

Neil Peart’s legacy is living on with a fundraiser benefiting the Royal Victoria Health Care Centre’s cancer centre and other Ontario health care facilities.

The legendary drummer for Canadian rock band Rush died at age 67 on Jan. 7, 2022, after a battle with glioblastoma brain cancer.

To honour the late drummer, Overtime Angels, a U.S.-based charity, held a benefit concert called a Night for Neil in  St. Catharines in October.

All the funds raised went toward four cancer treatment centres in Ontario, with each receiving $10,000.

“They wanted a way to have their own memorial and have a tribute as well to Neil’s life and have it go to local charities,” said the drummer’s sister, Nancy Peart Burkholder.

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Peart Burkholder lives in Gravenhurst and said their family has been a long-time supporter of RVH.

“We have quite a few friends who have gone there for treatment. We’ve had different surgeries there.”

She and other family members accepted the cheque on behalf of the RVH foundation earlier this week at the newly named Neil Peart Pavilion in St. Catharines.

For Peart Burkholder, cancer treatment is a cause close to the family, with the late drummer passing away in 2020 from the disease and their father, Glen Peart, passing away a year later from pancreatic cancer at the age of 88.

Peart Burkholder said the $40,000 raised for the Hospice Niagara, Niagara Health, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre is a nice way to honour both her brother and father’s legacy.

“They were both just so charitable, and we find it a good way to honour them because we know they would be proud of what we do,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Remembering Neil Peart'
Remembering Neil Peart
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When he passed, Peart had been battling glioblastoma for three and a half years — the same type of brain cancer that claimed the life of Gord Downie

Widely considered one of the greatest drummers to ever hit the stage, Peart was a part of Rush since 1974, and was the band’s primary lyricist. He replaced original drummer John Rutsey.

Born Neil Ellwood Peart in Hamilton, Ont., in 1952, Neil was raised in nearby St. Catharines where the concert was held.

In 1997, Peart, along with bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, became the first rock musicians to be inducted into the Order of Canada.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

— with files from Global News’ Chris Jancelewicz

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