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Keeping Up the Beat... DrumStrong 2009


By Steve Jones

Smiles... that is the first thing I notice. Everyone is smiling. When one thinks of cancer, smiling does not usually happen. This is the magic that sets DrumSTRONG apart.

DrumStrong, an annual drum marathon, was held May 16th and 17th at picturesque Misty Meadows horse farm in Weddington, NC. The 27 hour non-stop drum circle is a money raising event to help fund local and national cancer groups. It was started three years ago by Scott Swimmer as a response to his son Mason's bone cancer (Mason is now in remission). But money is not all that is raised.


Drum Circle drumstrong kids circle

DrumStrong is a celebration of life and the firm conviction that cancer can be beat. The drumming is a continuous rhythmic tapestry draping the background amidst acres of pastures, lakes, barns and blue sky. The drum circle itself, framed by suspended colored canvas flags, is the heart of the affair. Folks and percussion instruments of every shape, size, color, age and creed complete the circle. The circle represents every person working with the persistence, caring and humanity that is necessary in the battle against cancer.

Despite the scattered showers and occasional brisk winds, the mood is buoyant. Vendors display their wares ranging from hand knitted caps to therapeutic massage and energy drinks to hot dogs. Families stroll together. Adults, college kids, teens, toddlers and the occasional senior citizen fill out the eclectic crowd.

The drum circle is led by various drum facilitators from around the country. They keep the focus on the beat while incorporating the art of listening to what the group dynamic is and then becoming part of it. I had the pleasure of meeting facilitators John Yost of Chicago and Heather DeRigo of Tampa. Watching personal beats meld into the larger group rhythm is a joy to behold. The positive energetic teamwork approach is emblematic of the larger effort to beat down the negative force that is cancer.

After two days of drumming, my own outlook was cheered by this special bunch of folks .They are determined to continue this effort. It is an ongoing struggle, so please visit www.drumSTRONG.org and learn what you can do.

DrumSTRONG IV will be here before you know it.