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Music promoter and cancer survivor Cameron Clark brings arts to chemotherapy patients

By Katherine Hedland '88

As a PLU student, Cameron Clark brought popular acts including Kenny G and the ’80s band Toto to campus.

In graduate school at the University of Redlands, he booked Jerry Seinfeld for a comedy show and Mario Cuomo for a lecture.

And today, as a professional event producer, he puts big-name acts like B.B. King, Marc Cohn, Ray Charles and Joan Baez on stages in Bend, Ore., and among other things, just finished a run as producer of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo Tunes concert series.

"But the most important venue Clark ’88 wants to fill is a chemotherapy room at a Bend cancer clinic. After a grueling regimen of chemotherapy halted his testicular cancer, Clark has an even greater appreciation for the arts and is compelled to share his joy.

"Music is therapy," he said.

He has launched Project Art Infusion, which he will use to bring art and music into the lives of cancer patients. Donations will pay for artwork for the walls of the chemotherapy room, performers to play while patients are having chemo, a PA system to broadcast recorded music and comfortable chairs for family and friends to sit in while keeping patients company. He also plans to connect patients with mentors who have been through treatment, to support them along the way.

"The first time I walked into the chemo room, I was shocked at how much it felt like a morgue," said Clark, who was diagnosed in February 2002 and experienced months of debilitating treatment. "I figure if you’re going to sit and poison people through a tube, surround them with life – give them a reason to live."

Clark seeks donations at the events he puts on and uses connections he’s made to bring in performers from around and outside of Bend.

Clark’s event planning began at PLU, where he said administrators including former President William Rieke ’53 and former Vice President for Student Life Erv Servertson ’55 encouraged the fledgling entrepreneur.

Grads from the ’80s probably remember the Romantics playing in Olson or the weekend dances featuring the Crazy Eights, all produced by Clark.

"The opportunities that were available to me were phenomenal," he said. "If you fuse those—the classroom learning with all the hands-on extra curricular opportunities—college can be a great life learning experience."

After earning a master’s degree at Redlands, he moved to Bend, where he worked as elementary school counselor and a TV and radio broadcaster. In the summers, he worked on event planning and after a couple years was running Cameron Clark Concert Productions/C3 Events.

He’s still dedicated to his production company, but this new initiative and his family have taken priority. "This is my calling, my service, now," said Clark, who married his wife, Amy, in a special ceremony in Cuba in September and is now a father figure to her 4-year-old son, Zachary. "What’s really important is to let those you love know you love them and take their love in and give to your families and your community.""

Clark is in remission and says his doctors don’t expect a recurrence of the disease.

"I am cured," he said. "I use that word."

The exhausting regimen of eight-hour days of chemotherapy created side effects that have lasted long past his last infusion. Clark’s lung capacity is diminished, and is not back to full strength. He can’t put in the 60- or 80-hour weeks he used to work.

"And that has been a blessing," he said. "We get on these tracks of life where we get on this escalator going up and we don’t get off long enough to be stunned by the everyday beauty."

"I won’t get back on it. I will absolutely take the time to enjoy things," he said.

Clark speaks frequently of beauty, and says his cancer helped him rediscover it.

"When one has a life event like this, everything is new again," he said. "Your perspective is changed forever."

"You sort and shelve things according to what you want to have in your life. I’m going to spend my next days and weeks looking for the beauty – that’s where I reside, and it’s a beautiful place to be.

"It’s really an honor to get to be here," Clark said. "There’s so much great stuff waiting for us." ."

To make a donation or learn more about Project Art Infusion, e-mail cconcerts@aol.com or call 541-389-0995. Donations may be mailed to 208 S.E. Vine Lane, Bend, Ore., 97702.

 

PLU grad is named the World’s Smartest Person

By Nisha Ajmani '02

Who’s the smartest person in the world? A PLU grad, according to the International High IQ Society. After scoring 22 points out of 25 possible on the society’s online Test for Exceptional Intelligence, Andrew Nierman ’96 was named the World’s Smartest Person. Designed so gifted individuals will receive average scores, but only geniuses will achieve high scores, the test was taken by more than 50,000 people from 60 countries. Nierman’s score was impressive; he answered two of the most difficult questions, which had yet to be answered correctly by anyone else.

"I think there’s a little bit of a difference between being the world’s smartest person and winning this contest," Nierman said in a Newhouse News Service story. "The smartest person in the world probably wouldn’t bother entering this contest. I just thought it would be fun."

Now a doctoral candidate in computer science at the University of Michigan, Nierman, who was profiled in the Summer 2002 Scene, said he was able to perform above his intelligence level by being resourceful and persistent. He began with the easiest problems to build his confidence, gradually progressing to the more challenging ones, and wrote original computer programs to help decode some of the questions.

Andrew Nierman ’96 now holds the title of World’s Smartest Person and was the featured speaker at the Q Club banquet in May

 

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