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Cancer fundraiser returns to High Springs for third year

Cups of beer with the Payne Strong logo are seen on a table during the second annual Beer For Brains fundraiser (Courtesy of Kathy Miranda)
Cups of beer with the Payne Strong logo are seen on a table during the second annual Beer For Brains fundraiser (Courtesy of Kathy Miranda)

Jeremy Payne lost his battle with brain cancer in 2020.

Since then, an Alachua community has come together annually for a cancer fundraiser called Beer for Brains, which is held at High Springs Brewing Co. The event will return for the third consecutive year on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Kelly Payne, Jeremy’s wife, had an idea to create an initiative in support of Jeremy in 2019 while he was receiving treatment for brain cancer. But Beer for Brains began in 2021 to honor Jeremy's life while raising money for others battling cancer locally and nationally.

“When Jeremy was still alive, we were supposed to do a 5k for brain cancer, but he was too sick to go,” Payne said. “So a lot of our friends just decided to do something local, which was at the brewery.”

The venue itself is designed to bring members of the community together in the fight against cancer.

“It came together from a bunch of softball families,” Payne said. “We like to drink beer.”

Jeremy was a father and known figure within his community as a softball coach for the Santa Fe Lady Raiders at Santa Fe High School in Alachua.

The funds generated by Beer for Brains will go toward three main causes: the Santa Fe Lady Raiders; Head for the Cure, a non-profit organization fighting brain cancer; and a randomly selected local family with a member with cancer.

This money comes from the main events at the venue.

“We do a cornhole tournament,” Payne said. “It’s $50 to enter. First place wins $200, and second wins $100.”

There is also a raffle with various prizes donated by locals in the community in support of the cause.

“We’ve received Louis Vuitton bags and purses, a wine basket, a happy-hour basket and more,” Payne said.

The raffle costs $5 to enter, and all proceeds from those participating will go toward the causes.

There will be cups and T-shirts with the “#PayneStrong” message and logo on them being sold as well, Payne said.

Additionally, the High Springs Brewing Co. will donate 10% of all profits made on Saturday to Beer for Brains. This has been a consistent number for the three years of the event’s existence, Payne said.

“The Paynes were patrons of the brewery before Jeremy’s passing,” said Chris Moebus, the co-founder and co-owner of High Springs Brewing Co.

Live music will be provided courtesy of local artists Cliff Dorsey and Trevor Ellis. Dorsey has known the Payne family for years, and this will be his third year performing at the event.

“I usually just play country,” Dorsey said. “Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and George Strait.”

Food will be provided by Food Daddy’s, a growing food vendor that cates events, and 29:11 BBQ, a barbecue restaurant in Gainesville.

The local softball community has been involved in the production of events for Beer for Brains, Moebus said.

The owner of Food Daddy’s, Joe Saucier, has built a strong relationship with the Payne family through softball. He's been involved with the event in the past, but this is the first year he was asked to provide food through his new business.

“It's just kind of a win-win situation,” Saucier said. “I love to see people get enjoyment out of something that I've provided to them.”

In the past, Saucier mostly helped with setting up the event and being there for whatever else was needed. He noted that his relationship with the Payne family grew because he coached their daughter in softball, and he coached alongside Jeremy the year before his diagnosis.

“When he had to have surgery, that was the year we won,” Saucier said. “His youngest daughter was on the team with us, and we sent a trophy with her to take to him in the hospital.”

Robert is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing