The eighth annual Ryan Humbert Christmas Extravaganza will take place Dec. 15 and 16 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
The holiday event will feature Humbert and harmony vocalist Emily Bates with an all-star band of Northeastern Ohio musicians including Scott Alan on guitar, Tim Longfellow on piano, Justin Tibbs on saxophone, Jim Richley on drums and Bryan Thomas on upright bass.
For the third year in a row, the show will benefit Cleveland Clinic Akron General’s Muffins for Mammograms. For 23 years, Muffins for Mammograms have been providing free mammograms year-round for uninsured and under-insured women in Northeast Ohio.
Humbert began his partnership with Muffins for Mammograms when his mother began treatment for breast cancer at Akron General.
"We need these people that are doing this hard work on a day-to-day basis at hospitals across the country," Humbert said. "If it wasn’t for them, my mom may not be there. Nowadays, cancer touches everybody. We all know somebody within our close circle that has it. I want to try to help others prevent a loss."
After the excellent care Humbert’s mother received during her chemotherapy, Humbert decided he wanted to give back to Akron General.
"We’re so thankful that they helped save her life, and we wanted to be able to give back to them for that," he said.
Mary Anne Loftus, community outreach coordinator nurse for cancer, said she has attended the event for three years now. During intermission, Loftus speaks to the audience about Muffins for Mammograms and what the organization does.
Loftus said the organization got its name after partnering with Main Street Muffins, today known as Main Street Gourmet, to sell muffins to raise money for the breast cancer screenings. The fundraiser takes place every October.
The holiday extravagance will also help provide breast cancer screenings for uninsured or underinsured women. Loftus said Muffins for Mammograms has performed close to 10,000 mammograms for women in need.
"It’s not just about the donations," Loftus said. "It’s also about getting awareness out there of screening mammograms and women have to tale care of themselves. Just getting that message out there and educating people is a big help."
A small auction will also take place at the holiday show with all proceeds benefiting Muffins for Mammograms. Humbert said past items auctioned off included an overnight stay at a cabin and throwing the first pitch at an Akron RubberDucks game.
"Early detection is clearly the best route, and Muffins for Mammograms program is helping women do that," Humbert said. "They’re helping them get the screenings they need and deserve and that absolutely should be required. They’re doing the best work they can to help people get early detection, get checked out and get treated."
Each year, the holiday extravaganza has a theme, and this year is titled "Christmas in the Round." Humbert said attendees would be seated on all four sides of the band. The show will feature only holiday songs. Humbert said other genres have been mixed into the set in previous years, but this year will be all holiday favorites.
"I’ve always loved Christmas music," Humbert said. "We decided eight years ago we wanted to do something fun with that — something a little different from what any other bands in our area were doing. We wanted to try to find a way to really make the Christmas show a little more intimate and take it back to basics."
Akron AAA Auto Club, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, The Greater Akron Chamber, FirstEnergy and the Summit FM sponsor the Holiday Extravaganza.
"Every year the show is sponsored by some generous people," Humbert said. "All stepped up to help us put this show together and put this show on."
Seating at the Holiday Extravaganza is limited to 200 people per night. Humbert encouraged people to buy tickets in advance as three out of the past four shows have sold out in previous years.
Tickers for general admission are $20 or $35 for two. Tickets can be purchased at the Akron Civic box office at 330-253-2488 or online at www.akroncivic.com.