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Annual downtown event to benefit childhood tumor research
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Robert Owenby, 7, plays soccer Wednesday in the backyard of his family's Gainesville home. Robert suffers from neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder that causes the body to develop tumors. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Rockin’ 4 Research

When: 6 p.m. to midnight Friday

Where: Recess Southern Gastro Pub, 118 Bradford St. NW, Gainesville

Cost: $40 per ticket

More info:

The Owenby family wants to provide Gainesville residents with a fun night out while raising funds for children’s tumor research.

The Little Heroes of North Georgia is hosting its third annual event Rockin’ 4 Research from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday at Recess in downtown Gainesville. Tickets are $40 and proceeds go to Children’s Tumor Foundation.

“We do a 5K every year, and about three years ago we were headed to Chicago to run a marathon,” said Carolanne Owenby, founder of the Little Heroes of North Georgia. “We wanted a fundraiser we could continue here, and this seemed like a fun alternative, an adult date night event that would also bring awareness to neurofibromatosis and children living with it.”

Owenby’s 7-year-old son Robert is one of these children. Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes the body to develop tumors. Robert has a tumor in his right eye that reaches down to his sinus cavity.

He had his first surgery at just 10 months old and was officially diagnosed at 2. Currently, there is no cure for the disease.

“But there have been some huge strides made in the past 18 months for treatment,” Owenby said. “All money raised from the evening will go to hopefully finding a cure for NF.”

The event includes food, a silent auction and live music from Josh Beasley and the Kurt Thomas Band from Dahlonega, according to volunteer Melissa Payne.

Payne said Little Heroes T-shirts, hats and custom bracelets by “Beads for my Boy” will be sold.

According to Payne, the Children’s Tumor Foundation is the only organization dedicated to researching and finding a cure for neurofibromatosis.

Supporters of the Little Heroes of North Georgia have also been training this summer to participate once again in the Chicago Marathon Oct. 9. Owenby, her husband Wesley and six other local women will run as the Children’s Tumor Foundation team “Run for Robert.”

Owenby said Robert is “the official hero of the entire team.”

To support the Little Heroes, reserve tickets to Friday’s event at Reservations are not required.

Owenby said the event is a “fun getaway night for a husband and wife” or a good girls’ or guys’ night out.

The Little Heroes group has raised more than $100,000 in the last five years. Owenby said it is the group’s hope to continue to fundraise and have the capacity to do more each year.

“We want to continue to grow that number so we can hopefully fund a cure,” she said. “And as a friend of mine said once, every dollar truly does count, because one of them is going to be the dollar that finds the cure.”