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North Hills Monthly

Cindystock Festival a Fun, Relaxing Way to Raise Funds for Cancer Screening and Support

Jul 30, 2014 11:27AM ● By Vanessa Orr
After her husband’s best friend died of pancreatic cancer, Cindy Yates wanted to do something to help his three children, so she arranged an outdoor concert to help raise funds for the teenagers’ college educations. Eleven years later, Yates is still holding these concerts to raise money for cancer screening and support services—helping many more children and families along the way.

“Cindy is a little dynamo with a big heart,” explained Rebecca Whitlinger, executive director of the Cancer Caring Center, which is one of the nonprofits that benefit from the extremely popular event. “Opening up your home every year to a couple hundred people is a hugely generous, time-consuming venture, but I think if she could, she would do it all the time.”

Cindystock is a labor of love for the Yates family, who not only raise money for cancer charities, but help individual families as well. To date, the festival has raised more than $120,000 for cancer-related nonprofits, as well as provided funds to help families pay mortgages and keep up with doctor bills.

This year’s event, which will be held on Saturday, August 16 on the family’s three-acre property in Sewickley, is themed ‘Women of Hope,’ and will include four female musicians and a special guest speaker. “We always try to provide great entertainment—I travel a lot for my job, and I’m always looking for people to play at the festival,” said Yates. This year’s performers include blues singer Suzie Vinnick, Caitlin Canty, and local singers Shari Richards and Maura Elyse.

“For the first time this year, we will also have a special guest speaker,” said Yates. “Dr. Will Clower, who I call the ‘Rockstar of Wellness’ will be talking about eating well and cancer-fighting foods. He’s very entertaining and a welcome addition, especially since he includes chocolate and red wine in the list of foods that benefit us; it’s not all about tofu and rice cakes.”

Speaking of food, Cindystock guests have access to a full buffet dinner and soft drinks, provided by local restaurants and the Cindystock crew. A huge silent auction and candlelight ceremony honoring those who have survived cancer and remembering those who didn’t will round out the event. Tickets are $40 and can be ordered online at

According to Yates, the money that is raised at Cindystock is donated to agencies that either help provide screening services, or that provide support for patients and their families who are dealing with cancer. “Many cancers are treatable if they are caught early, which is why we target those agencies that provide screening services,” she explained. This year’s beneficiaries include Adagio Health, which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings; Obediah Cole Foundation, which provides prostate cancer screenings, and the UPCI Colon Cancer program.

On the support side, funds will be donated to the Cancer Caring Center, Hair Peace Charities and Satchels of Caring. “The Cancer Caring Center in Bloomfield provides free counseling and even has a food bank to help those people who may have to choose between buying food or buying medicine,” said Yates. “And Hair Peace Charities provides wigs for women going through treatment as a way to help them not feel so dehumanized.” Satchels of Caring provides homemade bags to cancer patients filled with inspirational contents, including a soft turban, scarf, support literature and a journal.

A portion of this year’s proceeds will also be donated to the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) program, which annually raises millions of dollars to care for children with cancer.

“It’s really a wonderful grassroots event that not only raises a lot of money, but shines a light on the charities that help cancer patients and their families,” said Whitlinger. “It’s just so cool to hang out with nice people, while supporting great charities and enjoying the sounds of summer.”

As for the fact that the event is now celebrating its 11th year, Yates is as surprised as anyone. “Heavens, no, I didn’t know I’d be doing this so many years later,” she laughed. “But I’ve learned that when you surrender to the universe, your purpose becomes clear. We’ve been able to help so many people; it’s just been an amazing, rewarding experience.”