When his family moved to Beverly, Patrick McNamara quickly became close friends with the Grant Family.
Even though he was a little boy with serious health issues, Patrick would knock on the Grants’ door unannounced, hoping to hang out with the Grant children.
After battling cancer almost his entire life, McNamara died in 2011 at age 13.
Pat Mac’s Pack, a non-profit foundation raising funds to battle pediatric brain tumors, was created in his honor, and the Grant Family has been active in organizing fundraising events to support the cause.
Although he doesn’t live in Beverly anymore, Connor Grant is now spearheading an inaugural concert in Chicago to benefit Pat Mac’s Pack.
“Fck Cncr Fst,” featuring Grant’s band and three others, will take place on Aug. 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., in Pilsen.
Despite being 10 years older, Grant became close friends with McNamara.
“He always wanted me to play music for him, which was always really cool that he got such a kick out of it,” Grant said. “He was getting treatment on the East Coast a lot, so when I moved to New York, I would go visit him in [New Jersey], or he and his mom would come visit me in Brooklyn.”
All four bands are well accomplished. Tongues Unknown, of which Grant is a member, plays modern psychedelic rock, and Melkbelly, which plays alternative rock, features brothers Liam and Bart Winters—who are Beverly natives and McNamara’s cousins.
Melkbelly is also playing at Pitchfork, a popular music festival in Union Park, from July 20-22, and is touring with the well-known rock band Foo Fighters this summer.
American Grizzly, which plays Americana, and Rookie, another rock band, are also performing.
Grant hopes the concert offers diversity and something for everyone. His music career includes an appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman” in 2014.
“I started taking music lessons at World Folk Music when I was 14 and just never looked back,” Grant said. “I’ve known since I was 14 that this was something that I loved more than anything else.”
The concert may have a crude title, but it’s a fitting tribute to McNamara, Grant said, because the youngster was known for speaking his mind—especially around the Grants.
As organizers brainstormed for names for the concert with the event nearing, they felt the name would have received McNamara’s vote.
“It was crunch time,” Grant said, “and we were like, ‘What would Patrick say?’”
McNamara was 26 months old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Recurring bouts with cancer forced him to undergo more than 15 brain surgeries over the next decade, as well as several rounds of radiation treatments that caused him to lose some of his hearing.
He died on Oct. 14, 2011.
Grant said McNamara was “always making me laugh.” McNamara had a strict diet to follow while he was ill, but he liked to sometimes bend the rules.
The two visited Top Notch Beefburgers in Beverly once, and McNamara was supposed to have a kids burger—and no fries. However, he ordered a “king burger,” Grant said—with fries.
“And then he ordered onion rings and a milkshake,” Grant said. “He knew that I couldn’t say no to him. He was kind of in charge.”
Other Pat Mac’s Pack fundraisers include an annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation event at St. Barnabas Elementary School, where McNamara was a member of the Class of 2012, and a 100-kilometer charity bike ride to Long Beach, Ind., every summer that begins at St. Barnabas.
This year’s ride included 174 riders and raised over $145,000, organizers said.
Grant’s father, Pat, works with McNamara’s father, Tom, in organizing the ride, which was first held in 2014 and has quadrupled in size.
Connor Grant said Pat Mac’s Pack leaders and organizers “just blow my mind with what they do.”
Several Grant Family members are on the foundation’s board. Connor Grant said he felt “on the outside looking in” because he didn’t live in Chicago, but he’s excited to help Pat Mac’s Pack now.
The organization has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight pediatric brain cancer.
“It’s a huge part of everyone in my family’s life, and everyone who’s on the board, everyone who runs that organization,” Grant said. “It’s kind of a year-round effort. They’re always planning for the next event. It’s just super inspiring. They genuinely are just doing beautiful things with beautiful intentions.”
Tickets to the concert range from $25 to $250 for a private box seat, which must be purchased in a group of six.
For more information, visit the “Fck Cncr Fst” page on Facebook.
For more information on Pat Mac’s Pack, visit the website at patmacspack.org.