Billy Joel concert raffle pushes cancer fight

Published 12:14 am Saturday, December 3, 2016

GARYVILLE — Everyone who knew Perry Levet knew how much he loved Billy Joel.

A musician and singer from Garyville, Levet was a huge fan of the famous performer and often played his music.

Levet died in 2014 of leukemia, just a few weeks after receiving an inspirational video from the Piano Man himself urging him to keep up his fight.

One of the most iconic photos in his legacy is the one of him as a young man on the verge of tears holding that first ticket to a local concert.

So when the members of Perry’s Posse, the group formed after Levet’s death to help other cancer patients in the River Parishes, heard the first commercials advertising Billy Joel’s February concert, they jumped into action.

First, they worked their phones and computers to secure their own tickets to the Feb. 10 show at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Then they figured out a way to help others.

Perry’s Posse is raffling off a pair of tickets to the show, with all proceeds to benefit the group, which helps local cancer patients in need.

Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $10. Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 2053, Garyville, LA, 70051 or contact any Posse member. The winner will be selected Jan. 24.

“They’ll have to sit by us,” said Posse spokesperson Joan Frederick. “We’ll all be in our orange shirts, though. They’ll see us coming.”

Perry’s Posse is a group of family members and friends who promised Levet they would use their energy to help others. They provide emotional, spiritual and financial support to cancer patients in the River Parishes and, occasionally, family members or friends out of state.

“We started with just giving out gas cards,” Frederick said.

Throughout the year the group holds fundraisers to help support their cause, including football pools, poker runs, dart tournaments, garage sales and breakfast with Santa.

R.W. “Dubby” Stoker of Garyville has been on the receiving end of such help from the Posse.

“It’s an awesome organization,” said Stoker, who was diagnosed with thyroid and kidney cancer in 2015. “It’s like you become a part of the family. They don’t just give you a few dollars and then leave. It’s ongoing. They give you financial help, yeah, but they call you and check up on you and see how you’re doing.”

Using the Joel concert was a given for the group.

Levet’s family spent many of the last months of his life trying to reach out to Joel, urging the singer to send some sort of message to boost his spirits.

“Everybody knows somebody,” Frederick said. “Finally somebody got to him.”

Joel did indeed send Levet a short video taped message encouraging him to keep battling his illness. It came just weeks before Levet died of his illness.

Frederick said the Posse is working now to get a thank you to Joel when he is in town.

“It meant so much to everybody that he took the time to do that,” Frederick said. “We just want to thank him.”