Skip to content

Outdoor festival aims to keep alive memory of young cancer victim through music

Proceeds raised through Adamstock Music Festival, which this year will be held in Sundre for the first time, help families affected by cancer to cover expenses

SUNDRE – An outdoor music festival coming to town later this month aims not only to keep alive the memory of a teen whose all-too-brief time was ultimately cut short by cancer, but also to raise funds to provide a helping hand for families currently enduring a similar experience.

The 10th anniversary of Adamstock Musical Festival 2023 takes place Aug. 18-19 at the Sundre Rodeo Grounds; the first time in town since the inaugural event kicked off out on a field north of Edmonton.

“It started way back when in a field out in Gibbons for a surprise birthday party for my nephew,” said Daris Kieley, president of Adam’s Army Charitable Foundation, referring to Adam Cripps.

Cripps was only a year old when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that tends to more often affect children, prompting the start of a treatment process that pushed the cancer back into remission only for six months before it returned, said Kieley.

At that point given low odds of survival at 10 per cent, he went to Calgary to receive a stem cell transplant in a procedure that took months to recover from but once again sent the cancer back into remission; this time for five years, she said.

But when he turned eight, Cripps was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when a tumour was discovered in his left femur, prompting doctors to amputate a portion of the limb and replace it with a prosthetic. The operation pushed the cancer back into remission, and Cribbs was despite the prosthetic able to enjoy life to its fullest for the next five years.

“He learned how to ride a bike with only the one leg, he learned how to snowboard – he was a very inspirational kid,” said his aunt. “He was very well liked by anybody that met him.”

However, just before his 15th birthday, Cribbs learned the cancer had returned and was this time diagnosed with a terminal stage four colon cancer that had metastasized to his brain, lung and liver, she said, adding doctors had estimated he had less than a year left.

“They gave him a six month timeframe,” she said, adding he ultimately went on for 16 months before his death on Nov. 27, 2014 at the age of only 16.

“Adamstock began because we wanted to give him the best last birthday that he could ever have, because we thought that was going to be his last birthday,” she said, referring to his 15th.

“One of his favourite events was to go to Boonstock music festival out in Gibbons,” she said.  

“He’d been out there quite a few times,” she said. “Me and my mom, we had cooked out there so he got to come backstage and meet a lot of the bands and stuff; he just thought it was the greatest thing ever, so we thought a music festival would be the best send-off.”

The inaugural Adamstock had about 100 people attend for a surprise birthday, and Cripps “had a great time; he loved every minute of it,” she said, adding he was also able to attend the second festival fundraiser for his 16th birthday.

“So before he passed, we asked if he wanted us to continue doing stuff like this and helping families,” she said. “That’s where Adam’s Army came in and we registered as a charity and we’ve just been going ever since.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adamstock was cancelled a couple of times so although not technically the 10th annual event, the organizers nevertheless wanted to recognize the 10th anniversary, she said.

“We’re not saying it’s the 10th Adamstock, it’s the 10th anniversary,” she said.

Eventually relocating the festival to the Lamont Recreation Centre, the organizers found themselves needing more space and one year set up at the Lamont Rodeo Grounds before last year’s event at Eagle Hill. From that venue, their sights fell on the local rodeo grounds when the Sundre Rodeo & Race Association offered use of the space at no charge, she said.

“It’s got ample space; they’ve got a lot of outbuildings that we can kind of use, it’s already fenced in for the concert – it’s going to be a great spot,” she said, hopeful about the prospect of having a permanent home to host Adamstock.

Asked about how much the event has raised over the years, Kieley did not immediately have an estimate available but said each year has varied quite a bit.

“It’s very dependent on the years,” she said, adding one year generated about $12,000.  

“Last year, because our costs were so much higher, we only raised five,” she said, adding this year’s goal is to raise anywhere between $15,000 to $20,000.

Proceeds go towards helping families impacted by cancer to cover expenses such as utilities, groceries and rent through an application-based process, she said.

“We really don’t have a lot of administrative costs. We’re probably sitting at five per cent, which is astronomically a lot lower than any other organization,” she said.

“We don’t give anything to research, we don’t give anything to anybody else; it goes directly to the families that need it. That’s what he wanted,” she said. “All of the money that Adam’s Army brings in, we give directly to the families.”

Kieley, whose mom lives in Sundre, expressed gratitude to the community for embracing the event with welcoming open arms.

“It has been incredible the amount of support we’ve gotten this year,” she said. “It’s definitely been a very good community to work with.”

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks