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Dave Thomas is beyond touched that his showbiz friends did not hesitate for a single moment when he went to them with an idea for a one-time stage show to raise funds for a family member in need.
In January, Thomas’ 44-year-old nephew Jake, also a filmmaker and avid outdoorsman, suffered a devastating spinal cord injury while snowmobiling, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Thomas explained how, with medical bills mounting for “a life completely changed,” it was his close friend and countryman Martin Short who had the idea for a benefit show that could do a lot of good, both for Jake and those afflicted with similar injuries.
“When you need help from friends and they rally like this, it is surprising because you don’t expect it and you certainly don’t take it for granted,” the actor and writer told THR.
A GoFundMe page was originally created for the injured father of four, but Thomas wanted to do more, and it was Short who jumped in, he said.
The former SCTV star reached out to numerous pals, including Dan Aykroyd, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dave Foley and the actor who played his beer-loving McKenzie brother, Rick Moranis.
It was the reaction to the McKenzies getting back together that really blew Thomas away, he said.
“I think a part of the mystique is Rick who has done some stuff, but he is largely retired. So I think it is more excitement about Rick coming out than it is about the McKenzie brothers,” said Thomas.
Moranis, who previously told THR he was not retired, just super-picky about the projects he did these days, didn’t hesitate to say he would once again don a parka and play Bob McKenzie, said Thomas.
“We are still really close and good friends,” Thomas explained. “This touched him in a way, just like a family thing. And that is why he is doing it. He is not doing it because he wants to go on the road with me and do the McKenzies. This is definitely going to be a one-off. I can guarantee you that.”
Thomas said he is still an awe of Short’s suggestion.
“I said I didn’t want to impose, to which Marty said, ‘That is nonsense. If this happened to anyone of my kids, I would be on the phone to you and everyone else we know right away. People will help. Trust me,'” Thomas told THR.
Short was right.
“Everyone was really great,” Thomas said. “I’ve never done this type of thing. So Andrew Alexander from The Second City said, ‘Let me help you,’ and he is giving us his theater in Toronto for free and helping to plan the afterparty at Wayne Gretzky’s place next door.”
Alexander’s theater only seats 300, but Thomas said an intimate night of entertainment was exactly what he was going for with the all-star lineup.
In addition to helping Jake, the iconic stars will also be raising funds for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
“It is not fair to just use this star power selfishly for my family, but it is the sort of thing where if you can help your family, you should help your family,” Thomas said. “Now I owe everybody. I guess my days of paid gigs are over.”
The show is set to take place July 18. So far, there has been no discussion about streaming the event.
“That doesn’t mean that it won’t be discussed, but one of the things that is important to me with respect to my friends who are helping is that I don’t want to turn this into something someone can exploit,” Thomas said. “When you say, ‘Can you do an evening like this on stage?’ that is one thing, but when you say, ‘Can you do an evening like this that we’re going to televise?’ I think performers come to that in a much more guarded way.”
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