Jack Joyce, after he learned one of his friends had diabetes, wanted to help. When a birthday party fundraiser didn’t meet expectations, Jack decided to hold a piano concert, featuring performers aged 7-17, on May 10, at Northside Drive Baptist Church.

It all started with Jack Joyce deciding to do something different for his 11th birthday party.

A friend of Jack’s has diabetes. Jack was upset when he found out what his friend went through every day to deal with the disease. “I felt bad he had to stick himself with needles all the time,” he said.

As he learned more about how his friend and others handled diabetes, Jack “figured out these kids, they’re really, really strong to not be complaining about how their life is,” he said. “This makes them strong to have to go through this.”

Jack decided to help.

The Buckhead boy turned his birthday party last February into a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes research. He asked friends and family to make donations to the Georgia chapter of the JDRF instead of giving him presents.

He had hoped to raise $200 to $300 for diabetes research. When he discovered the party raised just $100, “that was pretty devastating to me,” he said. “That just wasn’t enough. “I decided to do something to raise a lot more money,” he said.

That “something” now is scheduled for May 10. Jack, who studies piano, has invited 17 other piano students to join him in a concert to raise money for the Georgia chapter of the JDRF, which funds diabetes research. The show begins at 11 a.m. Tickets are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased through the Georgia JDRF website. All proceeds from the concert go to the charity.

The concert features performers aged 7 to 17. Jack’s calling it the “Atlanta Friendship Concert.” “It’s about friends helping other friends,” Jack said. “It’s kids helping other kids.”

“It’s a great event,” said Trey Moore, executive director of JDRF Georgia.

Moore said Jack’s fundraiser was “somewhat out of the ordinary” for the organization. A lot of young people raise money for JDRF Georgia, he said, but many do so through schools or other groups or through the organization’s annual walks. Jack is different in another way, too. Most of the young people who raise money for JDRF Georgia have a personal or direct family connection to juvenile diabetes, Moore said.

Jack has set a goal of $4,000 for his fundraiser, Moore said. That may not sound like a lot of money for a large charity, but it would equal or surpass most of the amounts raised by participants who solicit sponsors for their participation in JDRF’s fundraising walks, he added.

Jack found several sponsors for his concert, invited the performers, and is distributing fliers to drum up an audience. The concert is scheduled for the chapel at Northside Drive Baptist Church, 3100 Northside Drive. Jack plans to perform a Beethoven sonata.

Jack liked classical music early. His mother, Stacy Milburn, says Jack listened to recordings of Mozart for babies, Bach for babies, all that sort of thing, when he was young. He loved it, she says.

He started playing piano about age 7, he said. This year, after his disappointment with the fundraising through his birthday party, he took part in a school piano recital. After watching the parade of pianists and the parents in the crowd, he decided a piano concert would be a good way to raise money.

His mother is thrilled.

“I’m super-proud,” she said. “He’s putting his talent toward helping others. This is his idea. It’s not something I’m making him do. It’s not a school project. What 11-year-old kid does that? My cup runneth over.”

Jack says he’s happy, too.

“I feel good in my heart,” he said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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