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North Coast Current

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Nancarrow tribute fundraiser nets $50,000 for garden

Bidders raised their paddles the night of Feb. 21 to win prizes and rack up donations at Rock in the Park: A Tribute to Loren Nancarrow at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

The money goes to the Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden at Scripps to benefit cancer patients. Between phone-in donations and live bids, the gifts topped $50,000 at the benefit.

Susie Nancarrow, Loren’s wife, expressed gratitude for the attendees at the event and Scripps Hospital.

“This event is beautiful, amazing,” she said. “It reflects Loren’s commitment to the San Diego community and their commitment back to him.”

Loren Nancarrow was a well-known San Diego newscaster. The Solana Beach resident captured audiences with his frankness and ready grin. He celebrated life with his family and friends and had an overwhelming appreciation of nature. An organic gardener, he was also an author of several books, including “Dead Daisies Drive Me Crazy.” He died from brain cancer in December at age 60.

The Healing Garden at Scripps reflects Nancarrow’s love of the outdoors in San Diego. It’s a special place at the hospital where patients can go to relax outside by themselves or with their families. The money to name the garden in Nancarrow’s honor goes toward fighting cancer at Scripps, according to organizers.

“When patients first hear the word ‘cancer,’ they don’t hear anything else,” said Susan Taylor, external affairs director at Scripps.

In response to that, the hospital has “patient navigators” who step in immediately to help guide patients on a step-by-step course to health. Funding also aids in getting the latest in research and technology to fight cancer.

The auction and concert brought the total dollar amount for the Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden at Scripps closer to the halfway mark of a $500,000 goal. Donations from the event are still coming in.

Mel and Linda Katz were among the 500 people who attended. They bid on and won the VIP tour at KGTV 10 News. They later bid again just to donate more money to the cause.

Winners won prizes ranging from a week at the Rancho La Puerta spa to a limousine ride and movie with KSWB Fox 5 music critic Josh Board. Then they raised their paddles and gave even more money, receiving nothing in return but the joy of helping as they responded to the auctioneer’s calls for a $1,000, $500 or $100.

The auction was wrapped by Rod Salasay, Nancarrow’s ICU nurse, who played a song he wrote for Nancarrow on his ukulele to the hushed crowd.

A concert followed featuring many San Diego musicians including Eve Selis, Berkley Hart, Steph Johnson, Cathryn Beeks, Michael Tiernan, Peter Bolland, Alex Woodward and Earl Thomas. Loren’s son, Graham, played with his band Nancarrow.

Claudia Russell, program director at KSDS Jazz 88 radio, said “anyone who couldn’t come tonight can still donate online.” She added, “Loren did so much for San Diego — it’s a chance to give back.”

To find out more, go to

Helen Hawes is a North County freelance writer

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Nancarrow tribute fundraiser nets $50,000 for garden