Cliff Satterwhite has adopted a marathon runner’s approach to fighting breast cancer through karaoke.
In what has become an annual tradition to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Federal Way resident sings the Garth Brooks song “Friends in Low Places” for 36 consecutive hours. This year’s effort began Sept. 26 at the Stars Bar and Grill in Federal Way and generated $3,000.
Aside from a handful of quick restroom and water breaks, Satterwhite doesn’t sleep during the 36-hour performance. A bonus is that he meets people who share stories of how cancer has affected their lives.
“People are touched and inspired by it,” he said of the karaoke marathon. “I will do this forever.”
Over the years, Satterwhite has been involved in multiple fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, such as the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
He is also part of the South Sound chapter of Real Men Wear Pink and is leading more fundraisers this month at Stars, 31216 Pacific Highway S.
Fundraising events include “Tu-tu Tuesday,” where men are encouraged to wear a pink ballet skirt to the bar every Tuesday while playing games. Stars will also host a “bachelor auction” at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and Oct. 26. The ultimate goal is to raise $10,000 this month.
Satterwhite’s efforts are inspired by family and friends who have battled cancer. The list includes his father, Owen Satterwhite, who died of lung cancer; his sister Jeannie Satterwhite, 58, who is battling breast and thyroid cancer; his sister-in-law Berta Ballard, 65, who underwent a double mastectomy; and fellow area karaoke enthusiast and close friend Sondra Holliday, a two-time cancer survivor.
In the weeks leading up to his annual 36-hour singing session, Satterwhite said he practices staying awake.
“You build up your sleep tolerance over the month,” said Satterwhite, who also served six years in the U.S. Army. “I could have done 40 hours this year.”
La Marco Mitchell, senior community development manager for American Cancer Society in Tacoma, invites more men in the area to join the cause. Fundraisers like Satterwhite’s karaoke marathon can be cathartic for those who attend.
“It creates an environment where people feel safe to share their stories,” Mitchell said. “By sharing their stories, it brings more awareness to breast cancer. That’s what it’s really all about.”
To learn more about Real Men Wear Pink of South Sound, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-227-2345.
Story by Andy Hobbs, Federal Way Mirror