Booker Mini Foundation takes the stage for the final time - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Booker Mini Foundation takes the stage for the final time

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- It all started a decade ago with a breast cancer diagnosis, a benefit, and a few friends who knew how to rock. Today, that group of friends is better known as the Booker Mini Foundation.

Ten years ago a band member's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. As medical bills started piling up friends stepped in and planned a benefit. But, what's a benefit without some entertainment? Cue the Booker Mini Foundation.

In just two weeks, the band was able to pack the Mayo Civic Center. It was at that moment they realized what a fundraising organization they had become.

"Out of something sad that happened to her, something really good has come from it and because of her cancer we have touched all these lives," said lead guitarist Gene Peters. "We didn't start out to be a fundraiser but that's how it turned out."

Since then the group has been packing in audiences at various locations while raising funds to help others facing financial crisis due to medical issues.

"Many of them we have been able to help significantly so they can face their illness with a bit of hope," said Peters.

The band hasn't been without their own tragedy though. Long-time band member Larry Petit passed away in September 2013. Four months prior to his death Petit was diagnosed with bone cancer. Not even a month later, more bad news; doctors found a tumor in his esophagus. Larry decided not to receive treatment and instead enjoy what ever time he had left by living life to the fullest.

When his band members found out they wanted to do whatever they could to help, so they did what they do best and planned a benefit for Larry. Sadly, Larry passed away a week before the benefit would take place. Family, friends, and the band decided to turn the benefit into a big party instead celebrating Larry's life.

In the past decade the Booker Mini Foundation has helped nearly 200 people and has raised more than $600,000. Their biggest fundraiser is always the concert the day after Thanksgiving and this year would prove to be the biggest yet. The reason; it would be the final show the band would put on.

"We've been doing this for 10 years and it feels like the right time to bring it to a close," said Peters.

As the lights dimmed for the final time Friday night, their legacy of giving will live on. The band still plans to help out as many people as they can.

"We will keep helping until the money is depleted," said Peters. "We have 12 people lined up for donations right now."

Fans and community members have been packing the auditoriums every time the band plays and Gene Peters said it's because of one simple reason.

"Music is the one common denominator that this band has always had. We have used our music to bring people out and raise money and to bring joy into peoples lives. It's what we do best. We play music," said Peters.

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