J. Jaye Steele, lead singer of the local band PUSH, has toured the world as a rock and roll musician. He's seen the biggest, the brightest, the best this country and others have to offer. And yet, for decades, J. Jaye has been considered one of the largest ambassadors to the Southwest Florida lifestyle, always having good, positive and uplifting things to say about his community and those who live within it.
Recently falling ill to Stage 4 cancer and currently going through treatments, J. Jaye is managing to stay as strong as he can, and his community is standing behind him to see he comes out of recovery and gets on the path to remission.
Friends, family and fans of the local music legend have organized a benefit poker run and after-party concert, and the event has since exploded into an all-day fund-raiser and form of enlightenment for J. Jaye and other cancer survivors in the community.
J. Jaye Steele
The poker run will kick off the day of festivities April 21, at Harley Davidson of Fort Myers, with registration at 8:30 a.m. and kickstands up an hour later. Following a great 91-mile poker run -enough to get some wind in your hair - the benefit will continue at the Crazy Olive, Cape Coral, starting at 2 p.m., complete with live music from local and national acts, vendors, food tables, games, prizes and fun for the whole family.
Jeff Miles, coordinator of the event, drummer and backing vocals of PUSH, as well as a dear friend of J. Jaye's, is eager to speak of the run, the after-party, and how big of an impact this event is for the musician's hope and spirit.
"Planning this event has been such a success so far," he said. "So many people are wanting to help and do what they can to support this cause. After poker run registration at Harley Davidson of Fort Myers, bikers will take off at 9:30 a.m., and head to five stops, with each stop offering great specials, prizes, and of course, cards for the poker hands."
Starting from the Fort Myers Harley dealership, poker-runners will head to Joe Crackers in Port Charlotte, then to Miceli's in Matlacha, followed by The Joint at Cape Harbour, onward to Back Streets in Cape Coral, and finishing up at the Crazy Olive on Pine Island Road, around 2 p.m.
"This is going to be a nice, 91-mile ride - not one of those short runs that are all within a few miles of each other," Miles said. "These are all places that have had our band play when we're in town, putting us to work. We have a good relationship with these people, they're friends of ours. We try very hard to give them what they need and stay professional. Everybody really stepped up to the plate to help out with this. You can get a good ride, good times and help a great cause. And the weather forecast is showing a beautiful day that day; perfect weather for riding."
Miles said all riders are welcome - whatever means of transportation you may have - whether it be bikes, trikes, scooters or a four-wheeled vehicle.
What: PUSH for a Cure poker run and benefit concert
When: April 21
Poker run: Registration at 8:30 a.m., kickstands up at 9:30 a.m., departing Harley Davidson of Fort Myers
Poker run stops: Harley Davidson of Fort Myers, Joe Crackers in Port Charlotte, Miceli's in Matlacha, then The Joint, Backstreets and The Crazy Olive in Cape Coral
After-run concert: The Crazy Olive, starting at noon. Riders arrive around 2 p.m. Big concert starts at 4 p.m.
Bands performing: SuperBot, 10,000 Views and PUSH, starring Greg Sallen, Foreigner's Dennis Elliott and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander, among many more.
Also at concert: Taste of the Town food vendors, merchandise tables, plenty of raffles, silent auctions and fun for the whole family.
More information: Visit PUSHForACure.eventbrite.com or find the event on Facebook by searching "J.Jaye's Push for a Cure."
"Everyone's welcome to ride," Miles said. "It's all about getting this guy back to being healthy. We miss him a lot."
The cost to ride is $25 per driver, $5 per passenger and $10 for an additional poker hand. First prize winner of the poker hand will win $500, second prize will win $250.
The after-run concert
For those not participating in the run, the final stop on the tour, The Crazy Olive (1141 Pine Island Road SW, Cape Coral) is hosting an outdoor after-run benefit concert starting at noon, complete with full-sized stage, lighting and sound system, featuring several local and national acts who are all donating their time and energy for the cause. All ages are welcome to join in on the fun, and there's no cost to enter.
"Taste of the Town will be set up, offering a variety of delicious food from local restaurants, with six to eight food vendors on-site, as well as merchandising, great drink specials, and even a sponsored VIP area," Miles said.
As for music, your ears (and eyes) are in for a treat. SuperBot will start the show on the big stage at 4 p.m., followed by Stet Howland and 10,000 Views, and a special performance by PUSH, starring several good friends and fellow musicians making guest appearances with the group, including Gregory Sallen on keyboard and vocals and Dennis Elliott, the original drummer and founding member of Foreigner. Headlining the concert will be The Robin Zander Band, featuring Robin Zander, lead singer of Cheap Trick.
"We're going to have some of the best talent in Southwest Florida singing and playing with us that day," Miles said. "We're all friends with each other. The music community is not as big as many people think, and those within that community will do anything they need to to help each other out."
Throughout the concert, hundreds of prizes will be raffled off and offered through silent auctions, including several pieces of rock and roll memorabilia, hotel stays, limo services, restaurant gift certificates, gift baskets, fishing charters, local trips and tours and much, much more.
Rock and roll memorabilia up for grabs include a Gibson Flying V guitar; Dennis-Elliott-signed Foreigner albums and drumsticks; Autographed Foghat merchandise, albums and records, signed by the members of the band; guitars signed by Mick Jones and Ed Gagliardi of Foreigner and several others.
The road to recovery and helping the cause
In the interim, while J. Jaye is on the path to recovery, his fellow PUSH musicians have been performing as a side project called Miles, Yates and Chang.
"We are certainly not replacing J. Jaye, and want him to get back to being healthy again before joining us on the stage. So, in the meantime, the three of us are performing together to keep busy while he gets better," Miles said.
Funds from the April 21 benefit will not only help J. Jaye's treatment bills, but other cancer-fighters of the community, as well.
"The only money J. Jaye is receiving from the fund is specifically what he needs to get through the procedures," Miles said. "Anything left over from this is going to local patients with medical issues who need help with their treatments - especially prescription costs. Some people have a $2,000-a-month cost just for their prescriptions."
Those interested in participating in the poker run are encouraged to pre-register online by visiting PUSHForACure.eventbrite.com . Poker-runners may also sign up the day of the event at the Harley dealership of Fort Myers at 8:30 a.m.
Item donations for the many raffles and silent auctions that day are being accepted.
"If you would like to donate an item, please send along a description you would like for us to use in promotion," said Cathy Greco, a volunteer of the event. "We can arrange to pick up any items if needed. Gift certificates and gift cards are also great. Please feel free to call me, 239-980-8203, or Bonnie Walker, 239-671-7077."
Event sponsorships are available, as well.
"If you would help us in becoming a sponsor at any level, please email Jeff@coastalbuildingmaterials.com and include your company or organization logo for us to use in promoting your business," Miles said. "Silver sponsorship is $250, Gold sponsorship is $500 and Platinum sponsorship is $750, or become a 'PUSH Partner' for $1500.
"In addition, we have set up a bank account and PayPal account for donations, via PAYPAL, to Pushforacure@yahoo.com. Also, donations can be made to a bank account at Wells Fargo Bank Midpoint branch in the name 'JJ Steele,' with that exact spelling. The phone at the Wells Fargo is 239-573-2430. If we all work together, we can make a difference!"
Whether you participate in the run, the after-run concert, through prize donations, sponsorships or just showing your support by rocking out with friends and family that day, come out and have a good time while supporting a good cause.
Visit the benefit's Facebook event page, RSVP, share words of encouragement and invite your friends to join by searching "J.Jaye's Push for a Cure."
"The concert is completely free to attend - vendors have been helping us out by donating most of the food costs. Entrees are priced very well, including kid's meals. It's an inexpensive way to have a great time at a very entertaining show," Miles said. "Brent's Music and Sound is taking care of our sound, the City of Cape Coral is donating the huge stage. It'll sound great, it'll look great. Everyone has been so, so helpful in making this all come together. So, come out, buy a couple of beers, buy a T-shirt for the wife, some bracelets for the kids."