Attention, Elvis fans! The Hull-based Baer Project, which provides financial assistance to help children pay for summer camp, is raffling two separate ticket stubs to Elvis Presley’s would-be Aug. 18, 1977 concert at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, to benefit this effort.
Presley died two days before the scheduled show.
“These ticket stubs have been in my Dad’s checkbook for the past 45 years, and he is donating these collector’s items to raise money for The Baer Project,” founder and Director Johnny Harnois, a Hull resident, told The Hull Times. His father, Robert, lives in Auburn, Maine.
Harnois and other TBP supporters believe that attending summer camp is a rite of passage and that these camps can play an important role in the lives of children, supporting their social, emotional, and physical development. TBP sent 19 children to four summer camps across three states in 2021.
The non-profit Baer Project was founded last year after Harnois heard that his college friend, Pete Baer, had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in September 2020.
Once he heard the news, Harnois wanted to help out in whatever way he could. After several conversations with Baer, they decided that the best way to do that was to find a way to help disadvantaged children attend summer camp rather than focusing solely on Baer’s plight.
The outcome was the creation of The Baer Project, founded by Harnois with the full support of Baer, his family, and friends, as a lasting legacy to Baer.
Baer, a Connecticut resident, has responded “incredibly well” to chemotherapy, according to Harnois. “There is nothing that can stop him and nothing that will bring him down. The mental strength he has shown is inspiring.”
Following successful surgery in June 2021, Baer was pronounced cancer-free by his doctor on Aug. 4 “after a long journey with many ups and downs, many battles, and a lot of stubbornness, mental strength, and a positive attitude,” Harnois said. “Pete defied all odds.”
Harnois has been having fun taking photos of the ticket stubs around town featuring a variety of backgrounds, including under a pink umbrella (Elvis once owned a pink Cadillac), people holding the stubs, and by the ocean, among others.
“I plan to put together a scrapbook of photos for my Dad since he gave up the ticket stubs,” he said. “I also plan to include The Hull Times story about the raffle!”
Harnois noted that the tickets went for $15 each in 1977, “which was a lot of money then.” When his father got a refund for the unused tickets, he was handed the two stubs. Fortunately, he kept them in good condition for all these years.
Raffle tickets are available online through Aug. 19 at www.thebaerproject.com. Drawing #1 is for ticket stub Sec 119, Row V, Seat 7. Drawing #2 is for Sec 119, Row V, Seat 8.
Raffle entries are 1 for $10, 5 for $40, or 10 for $75 (which comes with a T-shirt commemorating the fundraising campaign and bearing the TBP logo). The goal is to raise $5,000.
With plans to reach out to various Elvis Presley fan clubs, inviting members to participate in the raffle, that figure could well be achieved or even exceeded, depending on their response, Harnois said.
He would like to include some Hull children as recipients of assistance enabling them to attend summer camp in the future.
“Our goal when we first started TBP was to reach all 50 states in five years,” he explained.
However, with the economy the way it is, fundraising was challenging this year. Now that it’s mid-summer, the focus is primarily on raising money for kids to go to summer camp next year, while providing some assistance this season for children participating in camps that still offer sessions.
For more information about how to qualify for assistance as a camper, to make a donation, or how to get involved as a summer camp partner, visit https://www.thebaerproject.com or The Baer Project Facebook page.