KAAC started in the basement of the Montgomery house with a production of "Annie!"
KAAC expanded its season and began to produce straight plays
KAAC started to perform in the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
KAAC was incorporated!
KAAC pledged $100,000 to Gilda's Club
"KAAC Packs" became a popular tradition
KAAC celebrated its 10th birthday - at that point KAAC had raised $200,000!
KAAC has raised over $300,000 and helped countless people. We plan to keep acting until we find a cure for cancer!
Jaclyn and Whitten Montgomery founded Kids Acting Against Cancer in 1999 in honor of their mother, Sandy Montgomery, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1996. Moved by their mother’s diagnosis, the girls wanted so badly to help, so they transformed one of their most beloved hobbies, theatre, into an entity that could fight cancer. After getting their footing, the sisters soon learned more about this ubiquitous disease and the prevalence of it even in children. Thus, the Kids Acting Against Cancer (KAAC), of today that fights specifically pediatric cancer was born.
The realization of the Montgomery girls’ dream began in the basement of their Indian Hills home with a ragtag production of Annie with a cast of about fifteen children aged seven to twelve, all of whom were personal friends of Whitten and Jaclyn. This Annie performance, which would be the first of five stretching through 2004, raised a humble $200 all of which was donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
KAAC produced three productions of "Annie!" at country clubs throughout Louisville. During these productions, they incorporated Silent Auctions as to raise more funds. The three shows together raised $25,000!
The members started "KAAC Packs," bags filled with various goodies for patients in the pediatric oncology sector of Kosair Children's Hospital. Many of the items are handmade by the members.
KAAC performed its final production of "Annie!" at Ursuline school for the Performing Arts
In 2005, after performing five productions of Annie and amassing over $40,000, the sisters switched the show from the standard Annie to the equally renowned musical Grease. Grease would be performed twice: once in 2005 and again in 2006. With these shows also came the introduction of the KAAC Producers’ Reception. This event would precede the performance and feature drinks, hors d’oeuvres as well a silent auction. Ticket sales for the reception as well as the proceeds from the auction soon began to elevate KAAC’s fundraising to new heights.
During the formulation of Grease and the accompanying Producers’ Receptions, KAAC began to branch out from theatre and hold separate fundraising events. The first of many was a dinner held at the Louisville Italian restaurant Porcini. This private event featured a full dinner as well as some musical entertainment from KAAC members.
The national organization of Gilda’s Club began conducing demographic research in Louisville in 2004, and in 2005, KAAC reached out to Gilda’s and officially pledged to sponsor the Game Room at Gilda’s Club with a $100,000 donation.
KAAC produced the United States premiere of A Little Princess, which was a perfect fit with the image of the organization at the time. With this performance also came a move to the Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. With a capacity of 619, the new venue provided KAAC the opportunity to reach an even greater audience and appear not only as a legitimate organization but also a professional and experienced theatre company.
The show was a great success with the majority of proceeds going toward the Gilda’s Club Louisville pledged sponsorship. At the request of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, KAAC helped support the Light the Night event following A Little Princess the same year. Due to the organization’s sponsorship of the event, that year’s recipient of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year Award chose KAAC as her beneficiary and donated $30,000 to the nonprofit.
KAAC performed the fractured fairy tale musical Into the Woods, which was met with similar success as 2007’s Little Princess.
Following this performance, Whitten Montgomery left for college, and the organization was left in the hands of Remy Sisk. Interested in exploring different capabilities of the organization, he decided to hold a trivia night at Gilda’s Club in 2009 as opposed to the usual theatre production.
Although the event was indeed a success, the organization realized that its most forceful strength was theatre, and in 2010, when Whitten And Jaclyn Montgomery were on winter break from school, KAAC performed the The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – its first foray into slightly more adult content.
KAAC performed the wildly popular High School Musical in the Clifton Center because of scheduling difficulties with the Kentucky Center. This show came close to selling out due to more media attention than ever before and featured the return of the Producers’ Reception.
KAAC chose Cinderella and returned to the Bomhard Theatre. Met with similar press attention as the year before, ticket sales from Cinderella resulted in KAAC paying off its pledge to Gilda’s Club and therefore an inspiration to seek other goals such as more medical equipment to Kosair’s Hematology/Oncology Clinic.
After watching a production of Dracula at Actors’ Theatre Louisville, Whitten Montgomery and Remy Sisk, who had become progressively more involved with leadership aspects of KAAC since High School Musical asked themselves: “why don’t we do a drama instead of a musical?” Straight plays are significantly cheaper to license, do not require music rehearsals or a musical director, and are more conducive to being performed in smaller and more intimate theatres, which are far less expensive than grander venues such as the Bomhard.
Therefore, in January of 2013, in order to conserve more funds that may later be distributed to Kosair and Gilda’s Club, KAAC chose to stage the murder mystery And Then There Were None in the MeX Theatre of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in January 2013 over multiple nights as opposed to KAAC’s standard “one night only.”
Media attention this time took a different approach to covering the event than in years past. An article in local publication The Paper detailed the impending transformation of KAAC and the more realistic expectations and goals set by Montgomery and Sisk. KAAC followers were trepidatious of the change, and many speculated if it was abandoning its happy-go-lucky roots established by Annie and Grease.
The show was a massive success. With lower expenses than ever, And Then There Were None proved to be KAAC’s most successful show to date in quality and in fundraising. Those who were apprehensive of the transition realized how much KAAC was saving by producing a lower-scale show and subsequently applauded the organization for more aptly managing funds.
In the spring of 2013, KAAC celebrated it's fifteen production! "God of Carnage" took the organization to a whole new level of professionalism. The comedy marked KAAC's venture into a multi-show season.
In the fall of 2013, KAAC performed its first drama, "Rabbit Hole." For this show, KAAC began to offer free tickets to cancer support groups, making the show a service and a fundraiser.
In January of 2014, KAAC produced the local premiere of the Tony Award Winning Musical Spring Awakening. Spring Awakening is a renowned, award-winning musical with a beautiful story. Thousands of viewers have fallen in love with the music. While some of the themes within the show are mature in nature, Spring Awakening is a work of art. At first, we were reluctant to produce such a racy production, but we realized that this story should be told. Our goal was that Spring Awakening will generate hype, awareness, and funds for KAAC. And, it did all of that and much more! Spring Awakening has been KAAC's most well received show to-date! Raising over $15,000 and selling out nearly all of the performances, Spring Awakening has helped the organization grow to a new level.
Sisk and Montgomery have since partnered with Charlie Meredith as the three co-executives of the organization. They intend to branch out into two different sectors: ‘Acting Against Cancer’ and ‘Kids Acting Against Cancer.’ This distinction will help the organization reach a larger audience.
Motivated by the success of their recent productions and their ability to work as co-executives, Charlie Meredith, Whitten Montgomery and Remy Sisk are currently working to revamp the organization, so that it is an ever-present part of the Louisville community. Due to the growing nature of the organization, in March 2014, the organization began a rebrand to incorportate a larger demographic. In order to do this, Kids Acting Against Cancer has become Acting Against Cancer, so that more people can help the cause. Each theatrical production will strive to produce awareness for their noble cause and prove that the youth can use the arts to fight cancer. Additionally, all profits from productions will benefit pediatric oncology patients.