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brian redz
Gears song “Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo” off their 1980 studio album is also the name of their 2015 feature length documentary telling the story of the band.

In Ashley Anderson’s home, punk rock was the soundtrack of family life.

That was thanks to Ashley’s father, Brian “Redz” Anderson, a member of The Gears who were “one of the best late-70’s punk bands” to come out of southern California.

“His hair was red, that’s how he got his stage name Redz”, Ashley said.

Brian’s punk moniker inspired Ashley’s kidney cancer fundraiser “Run for Redz”. She’ll be running a half marathon to honor her father’s 4-year journey with stage IV kidney cancer. Ashley met her initial $10,000 fundraising goal in December 2021 – a massive goal that Ashley was happy her dad got to witness, as Brian passed away in January 2022 because of his diagnosis.

In the year before he passed, Brian’s treatment options began diminishing. He, Ashley, and the rest of the family had carefully researched kidney cancer and the types of treatments available. Brian had participated in a clinical trial, though he had to withdraw eventually. Immunotherapies are some of the most promising kidney cancer treatments in the past decade, however, Brian had rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, which made immunotherapy a more difficult treatment option.

“He was actively involved in his treatment plan…but it’s been difficult to find other trials in our area,” Ashley said. “I started this fundraiser for my dad. Kidney cancer needs more funding for new treatments, treatments that cause fewer side effects, and more methods for early detection. I’ve witnessed it with my dad. I want better for kidney cancer patients.”

Since her father’s passing and because of how successfully she reached her initial fundraising goal, Ashley increased her goal to $15,000, for which she has pledged to run the Grateful Dad Half Marathon taking place in Portland, Oregon on June 18, 2022 – Father’s Day weekend.

“I want to go big,” she said. “I like the tie-in to Father’s Day. June is far away but I didn’t see a reason to delay raising funds. It’s still a drop in the bucket in terms of the amount needed for actionable change, but kidney cancer is not stopping.”

Ashley took some key steps that helped her meet her initial fundraising goal:

  • Crafting a fundraiser using her personal story and family photos to clearly articulate her goal, what she planned to do, and who she was doing it for;
  • Sharing her fundraiser widely on her social media channels and then reaching out directly to family and friends to both encourage donations and to share her post with others;
  • Reaching out to special groups that mean a lot to her and her father, like other runners and her father’s music community.

Contextualizing how contributions help was also useful.

“What seems to stop some people from donating is thinking it needs to be something big. But it doesn’t need to be! For example, if someone wanted to pledge $1 per mile I’m running, that’s $13 and then they’re on that journey with me,” Ashley said.

Ashley Anderson with her dad Brian “Redz” Anderson.

“It’s so encouraging to see people get passionate about the fundraiser, especially if cancer touched their lives.”

The process of preparing for the half marathon has been both a welcome return to a sport Ashley was once extremely involved in and a parallel of the family’s cancer experience.

“Kidney cancer in general has been very unpredictable for us, so we focused on being in the moment,” she said. “I’m grateful that I can run because my dad wasn’t that mobile towards the end and remembering to be in the moment helped me enjoy all of the time I had with him. I run for my dad.”

The training has also become a family activity as Ashley’s brother, Jeffrey, and sister-in-law, Summer, joined her to run the half marathon. Together, they are celebrating their father.

“I would love to create a team and get more people to join under the Run for Redz umbrella with the KCA,” Ashley said. “This fundraiser, to me, feels like the first step.”

Not too long ago, Ashley stopped into a record store to browse the punk albums. There was a Gears record on the shelves and the shop owner knew the band.

“It’s really special to know that he’s out there in the world and that people know his music,” she said. “It’s the music in the background of my childhood and my life.”

Learn more about Ashley’s “Run for Redz” fundraiser.

4 thoughts on “Ashley runs for “Redz”, her punk rock dad”

  1. Ashley, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your story hits home with me 100%! My father passed away from stage 4 Kidney Cancer in 2016. I feel that the more you love someone, the more it hurts. I try to look at the fact that my father meant so much to me, that I was so lucky to have such a great influence and that is why his death is such a huge loss for me and my family.

    My dad too was a musician. He was a folk-rocker, Bob Dylan and John Prine were his favorites! I’m so very interested in the Grateful Dad Marathon and will be considering it. I live in Southern California and am inspired to begin training right away!

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hang in there and keep rocking, your Dad is watching!

    -Layna

    1. Layna! I love everything about what you had to say. Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry to hear about your dad. It really does sound like we hit the jackpot when it comes to dads.

      I’d love to see you at this race! Take care.

  2. I lived down the street from Brian for over 20 years and I just knew him as the quintessential suburban Dad: mowing his lawn, watching sports on TV, burning hamburgers on the back yard grill. I didn’t have any inkling of his punk rock past until the last year. I will treasure the memory of sitting in his living room and hearing “Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo” for the first time.

    My wife and I watched Ashley and her brother Jeff grow up into such excellent human beings and I am so pleased that Brian’s memory will be honored this way. Thanks Ashley

    1. If Brian burnt some hamburgers, he only did it 1 time probably because of a ball game from my observations and then he chewed himself out! More than 1 time I’d be shocked but would really like to hear about it!
      I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a number of Brian’s home cooked dinners and they were great, So great that he could have opened a restaurant. Did he make little minute microscopic mistakes in his seasonings? He says so but we couldn’t tell as it was all great every time!!

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