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Pay It Forward: A tender song to raise money in the fight against Cancer

A man dying of cancer wrote the song, "Keep Me in Your Heart" for his wife. Les Merle now sings it in memorial of his daughter who also died of cancer.

Les Merle had given up on live performances. His daughter Denise changed his mind. She wanted him to use his gift of song to raise money to fight the disease that would eventually take her life – cancer. Les remembered, "She dragged a promise out of me on her death bed, quite literally. She made me promise that I would go back to live music.”

That was 10 years ago. Now Les and his small band play at least one benefit each year. “There's nothing else I can do. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a chemist," Les observed. But he can play guitar and sing, and people are willing to make a donation to hear him.


Beyond his music, his wife Vickie runs silent auctions and even sells her homemade peanut brittle.

When asked how much money they’ve raised for the American Cancer Society, Vickie did some quick estimating, “A rough guess over the nine years ... We've raised $50-thousand probably."

Whenever they raise money, they bring along with them a big board filled with purple hearts. They invite anyone who has had a personal battle with cancer to sign their name to a heart.

Pointing to one of those hearts, she said, “Tammy Warner right here. She was the wife of the bass player for their band. She battled breast cancer for 14 years."

Les observed, “It gives people a chance to talk to other people who are in similar situations, to realize they're not alone in this fight.”

Adding to this year’s Relay for Life team total, Angela Nelson with Mountain America Credit Union “paid it forward” to the Merle’s with $500 cash.

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