Lana Turner Foundation
WHO WE ARE
In late 2009, Brit Turner, Drummer of Rock Band Blackberry Smoke was on tour in Europe when he was given devastating news. His daughter Lana had been diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that develops from nerve tissue. Only 3 at the time, tumors had taken over 97 percent of her body. Brit and his wife Shannon were devastated but resolved to fight the disease. And in 2011, after years of treatment, The Turner family finally received some good news. Lana’s cancer had gone into remission. It was at that point that Brits commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of children was born. Initially Brit and his band Blackberry Smoke leveraged their building fame, to generate donations from their growing fanbase to contribute to children’s cancer research.
Over the years, the Members of Blackberry Smoke have not only become hometown heroes but also international music stars and have lived up to their promise to do everything they can to fight children’s cancer. Since 2011, Blackberry Smoke has donated more than $400,000 to childhood cancer organizations. The money raised is largely a result of meet and greet packages purchased by fans. The band have also hosted the Blackberry Smoke Ride for CURE in 2019 and plan to make it an annual event. These initiatives have all contributed to the goal and reinforced the idea that music and goodwill have the power to turn the tide of a terrible disease and music has the power to heal. But throughout this time Brit and the team have always felt that more could be done.
The Lana Turner Foundation is the result of that realization and is a natural continuation of the work that Brit and the band started to fight children’s cancer. The Foundation will continue its ongoing commitment to work with multiple cancer charities to provide funding for research initiatives and patient and family support, but will also expand its remit to actively offer structured art, music and storytelling programs to children’s oncology wards across the US.
The Lana Turner Foundation uses the power of music, art and community to promote and benefit children’s physical and mental wellbeing as we work to find the cure for children’s cancer.
Board of Directors
I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. Playing music in a band, having a physically and mentally challenging e-commerce/shipping business and raising money to help find a cure for children's cancer ( the most underfunded of all cancers), keeps me busy. I like being busy. My wife and child are the most important thing to me in this world. Helping to secure a future for our family is a number one priority.
Mr. Merkens leads the global Brand Strategy and Planning discipline for Teneo, a global CEO advisory firm based in New York. As a veteran marketing and communications leader, he regularly counsels some of the largest companies in the world on storytelling and stakeholder engagement and is equally at home leading complex creative brand positioning executions as well as highly focused reputation management and crisis mitigation campaigns. Over his 20 plus years in the marketing and communications industry, he has partnered with brands as wide-ranging as Coca-Cola, Verizon, Dow Chemical, CIGNA, IBM, Victorias Secret, and Equifax, where he served as Global Creative Director.
Christie D’Amour is the Chief Operating Officer for Emory Investment Management. With a day job running the Investment Operations for Emory University’s $9 billion endowment, Christie is knowledgeable, driven and focused on the art of building strong operational infrastructures and cultivating long lasting relationships. Prior to overseeing Emory’s investment operations, Christie was the Chief Operating Officer for Spider Management Company, the University of Richmond’s investment company. With a background working for not for profit organizations, she is extremely mission focused. Her passion for music, partnered with her need to give back, has led Christie to develop and nurture relationships with staff at the T.J. Martell and Seacrest Foundations. Over the past few years Christie has hosted several public events to showcase and promote emerging country artists. Christie attended the University of Scranton, receiving a B.S. in Accounting.
Chris Bechtler is a certified public accountant located in Louisville, Kentucky. The requirements for licensure ensure that Mr. Bechtler maintains the highest standard of knowledge and ethics when operating as an accountant. Mr. Bechtler's firm Bechtler, Parker & Watts provides outstanding service to clients because of the organization's dedication to the three underlying principles of professionalism, responsiveness and quality. The firm goes back to and is the result of the firm of Brown and Imhof, which was organized and began business in Louisville, Kentucky in the early 1930's.
George Tingley is an experienced business development lead, who has focused his career seeking out opportunities to engage customers and consumers through the application of an analytical and systematic approach to business development, sales and problem resolution. His proven experience, creativity, persistence and accomplishments have allowed him to grow business and engagement with audiences for both profit and nonprofit organizations across the southeast.
Kevin Kennedy is the Chief Operating Officer of CURE Childhood Cancer, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research and supporting patients and their families. Prior to joining the staff, Kevin and his family were longtime volunteers for CURE. Kevin served as a member of the CURE Board for six years and served as Chairman for two years. He earned his degree in Computer Science from Mercer University and is retired from Morgan Stanley, where he served as Vice President of the Institutional Securities Group. Kevin has been married to Margaret Ann for 36 years and they have three children and three grandchildren.