Atlanta musician Barry Brandon, 29, has overcome eight heart surgeries since he was a toddler and is now trying to give back to the community through his new organization, the Heart Foundation.
The Heart Foundation will hold its Inaugural Benefit Gala at The Fox Theatre tonight. The benefit includes cocktails, a catered dinner, dancing and the sneak preview of “The Tin Man Project” — a short documentary about Brandon’s eighth heart surgery when he was 27 that includes interviews with family members as well as footage of him recovering in the hospital.
Brandon is a well-known gay artist in Atlanta for his music, parties and especially his one-man show “In My Own Words,” which tells the story of growing up in hospitals through music and spoken word. He says with the Heart Foundation he is trying to give back to other children and their families who face difficulties.
“As a kid in the hospital, I was always aware there were other children who were in the hospital with no one with them. My mom was able to stay with me but it was hard,” he says.
Because he had a wealthy father, and even though his parents were divorced when he was young, Brandon says he was able to receive the best care until he was 21.
“I just knew how hard it was for her [his mom], but as hard as it was, it wasn’t as hard as it was for other children who were alone, were not smiling, not laughing,” he says.
While parents may want to stay with their children when they are in the hospital for cardiac care, trying to hold down a job to make sure a family can cover medical costs as well as other bills is difficult for parents, says Brandon.
“People can’t afford not to be at their job — it’s a Catch 22,” he says.
Last month, Brandon said the Heart Foundation was able to help one family with bills and a car payment while their infant was in Emory’s cardiac wing. Brandon says the organization is working with Emory to find other families to help in the future.
The Heart Foundation Inaugural Gala
Sunday, Sept. 19
5-10 p.m. at the Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA
After party with DJ Vicki Powell
10 p.m. at My Sister’s Room
1271 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta, GA 30316
To learn more about and to see clips from “The Tin Man Project” visit www.bshertfilms.com.