WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — On Tuesday nights at Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar, the famous baby grands are used as little more than desks, and the man holding the microphone isn’t taking requests.
Still, people pack the house, gather around the stage with pencils in hand and blank sheets of paper at an arm’s length.
Andy Powell, better known as “Cubbie” for his five years as Des Moines’ favorite mascot has become a familiar face in the central Iowa bar scene.
He rolls through six rounds of trivia, five nights a week, prone to the occasional goof up, and always quick with a joke.
“He doesn’t always know the answers to his own questions. There’s never a dull moment. He’s a pretty funny guy,” said Brad Dwyer, a trivia player.
It sounds like a cool way to make a buck, but for Cubbie, hosting trivia is an outlet for something that is truly close to his heart.
“We were able to send seven kids to camp this year and it was all because of you guys. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much,” told trivia players at Blue Moon.
For three years, Cubbie has raised money for Children’s Cancer Connection, offering teams the opportunity to double their scores for cash donations to the non-profit.
“It makes it that much more worthwhile to be out here contributing to something like that.”
The result of trivia players digging deep is families like the Inmans, three years into the fight of their lives, getting a week away from the stresses and fears that go along with it.
“After a long, lengthy medical workup, we found out that it was cancer,” said Jenny Inman, the mother of Michaela Inman, a young lady battling cancer.
At just eleven years old, Michaela Inman, an active pre-teen was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone tumor in her ankle.
At 80% the survival rate is high, but at that age, imagine the what ifs running through her young mind.
“I was always telling myself, what if I’m in the 20% that doesn’t make it,” said Michaela Inman.
Over the course of two years, Inman received 114 doses of chemotherapy.
One thing helping her through this difficult time was the life-long friendships she made through camps hosted by Children’s Cancer Connection.
“They provide a lot of fun and distractions from the hospital and they don’t focus on the cancer side of it,” said Inman.
The organization has a camp for kids in remission or going through treatment, a retreat for siblings, and even gets mom and dad involved through a family camp.
“That time in camp for us was the only time all four of us could stop and unplug,” said Jenny Inman.
Due to generous donations from people just enjoying a night of trivia, camp is free to families.
Of course, Cubbie is in charge of entertainment.
“He makes it a lot of fun at the camp dances. He interacts with the people at the dance,” said Michaela Inman
“The lord didn’t bless me with a lot of money but he blessed me with some talent resources so I thought I’d lean on my trivia teams,” said Powell.
Michaela is now 18 months cancer free.
It costs Children’s Cancer Connection $375 to send one child to camp. Powell estimates 25 kids have gone to camp from donations at Blue Moon alone.