Acclaimed Texas Guitarist Aims to Give His Brother the Ultimate Christmas Gift — His Life

Wednesday, December 16, 2009| by Will Chen

DALLAS, TEXAS — December 14, 2009 — Music fans and writers alike are always astounded at guitarist Rhett Butler’s ability to simultaneously play two guitars — and his overall impeccable artistry, calling him the next legend in the long line of legendary Texas guitar players. Glowing accolades like one in The Austin Chronicle — “Rhett Butler is one of those artists that has to be seen to be believed. 10 fingers, 2 guitars and a room full of jaws hitting the floor" — are common. But what’s uncommon is one of the driving forces behind his work, his brother, Ashley, a cancer survivor fighting again for his life.

This holiday season and beyond, the Dallas-based guitarist is hoping to inspire two thousand people to help find a miracle for his brother by raising $100,000 from the sale of a special 5-CD Boxed set Collector’s Edition called The Kid From Kilkenny for only $45.00 — along with the hopes and prayers of everyone who discovers Ashley’s story and Rhett’s powerful bond with his younger brother in the 20-page booklet that comes with the five albums.

Both Butler boys were named by their mother after the characters in the beloved Gone with the Wind movie. Now these tightly connected Texas brothers — one who is today blind and “perpetually 11-years old,” and the other who threw himself into the guitar as a way of coping with and sharing his brother’s journey — are hoping to find the goodwill and giving that underscores the Christmas season.

At 30, Ashley is a childhood survivor of the ravages of pediatric brain cancer that he was diagnosed with at age two. The doctors told the family he didn’t have long to live. But Ashley proved them wrong and remains one of the longest surviving patients, despite two later setbacks and more operations to remove tumors in both Ashley's brain and neck.  These procedures that left him almost completely blind and with partial learning disabilities.

Family Is Seeking the Most Advanced Treatment for Ashley in Israel This Week

This fall the cancer returned with a vengeance.  The tumor was successfully removed from Ashley's lung but in order to ensure that the cancer doesn’t return, the Butler family is seeking the most advanced and experimental treatments.  Enter notable cell therapist and oncologist, Dr. Shimon Slavin, in Tel Aviv, Israel, who uses donor white blood cells among other innovative approaches to attack cancer. 

“Slavin is one of the world's most renowned stem cell and immunotherapy expert and the guru on the subject," Rhett wrote to fans and friends in a recent email about his little brother’s condition. While Slavin uses some of the most advanced treatments for cancer that are available, most of these are not available in the US because the FDAhave not approved them — and they are not covered by the family’s insurance. Hence the need to raise money for the trip and procedures at Slavin’s clinic.

“If I can sell just 2,000 sets of The Kid from Kilkenny, that will pay for Ashley’s treatment in Israel and hoped-for recovery,” Rhett says. “So far, the response has been very positive: Just last week, the owner of a well known real estate company graciously donated $5,000 but we have a long way to go in Ashley’s fight against this disease."

Throughout his life, the Butler family has been told Ashley would not live. They have always refused to accept this prognosis. 

"It was true when Ashley was two and it’s still true today. We’re going to do everything to give him a good quality of life and find a way for him to survive,” says Butler.

Butler’s set includes the 5 CDs of original music that he has produced while Ashley has been fighting cancer: (The Kid from Kilkenny, Live at Houston Northwest, In this World, Spend It All and The Atlantis Assignment).  The collection also includes a 20 page booklet “chronicling how his condition has influenced my music and life during the past five years.” 

People can order the 5-CD set directly from Rhett’s website at: www.rhettbutler.org

Or, if they just want to make a contribution, go to this link: DONATE

About Dr. Slavin’s work:

To learn more about the new treatments being offered by Dr. Slavin, visit:http://thefutureofthings.com/articles/1012/smart-bombing-cancer.html

To Learn more about Rhett Butler’s music, visit www.rhettbutler.org

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