Gene Shay Support Fund

4/18 We're sorry to report that Gene Shay peacefully passed away yesterday, heading to join his wife Gloria at that great folk festival in the sky. The family will have a private burial, but a celebration of life will be planned as soon as that is possible. Thanks again to all who have donated for their generosity, well wishes, support, and love. The funds will be used for medical and burial expenses. If any funds remain, they will go towards a celebration of life for Gene.


Gene Shay, 85, legendary folk DJ and co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, is in the ICU at Lankenau Medical Center, and he has tested positive for COVID-19.

He's on a ventilator. He's being given hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and is making slow progress in the right direction. His health care team is trying to gradually reduce the % of oxygen, but it will take more time to get it down to the level where he can come off the ventilator. Generally the reports from the ICU staff are positive.

His family is encouraged by this and by the great care he is receiving from the terrific doctors and nurses at Lankenau. As of Monday, March 30, Gene continues to make further slow and steady progress towards getting off the ventilator, but there's a long way to go.

Since he is COVID-19 positive, Gene is quarantined. His family and friends cannot visit him, which is especially heartbreaking. 

As so many have asked how to send well-wishes and express your support, we have created this campaign to help Gene as he continues to fight and recover. His daughters, Rachel Vaughan and Elana Benasutti, would like to prepare to bring him home, getting a hospital bed instead of a sofa, and any other medical equipment that will support his recovery. They want to hire a private nurse and physical therapist, someone who is not also seeing other patients, to care for him at least for the first month or two until he is strong enough to walk again. This will be very expensive. Elana is Gene's primary caregiver and she works nights in the veterinary hospital at UPenn, so they will need help both day and night at times.

For over 50 years, Gene has given so generously to the music community, and to his family and friends. Now is the time for us to give back. 

All funds withdrawn will be provided to Elana and other members of Gene's family to cover his medical and recovery costs. No donation is too small. Anything would help cover his medical costs in this trying time.

If funds remain after the expenses, they will be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts for the folk music community.

Below is a video from Tom Rush (who has also tested positive for COVID-19), on the occasion of Gene's retirement from WXPN, which speaks to Gene's contributions to the folk community, and beyond. 

Please give what you can to let Gene know how much he matters in his hour of need!

While at this time he cannot receive any physical recovery wishes, we invite you to send virtual notes of support via his Facebook page at Once Gene is home and much better, we'll share your posts, and, once he's able to receive them, we'll let you know where to send any cards or other items.


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  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 6 mos
  • David Bromberg 
    • $100 
    • 6 mos
  • David Fishken 
    • $10 
    • 6 mos
  • Julie Gold 
    • $100 
    • 6 mos
  • Christine Lavin 
    • $25 
    • 6 mos
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Fundraising team: Gene Shay's Fundraising Team (3)

Angela Dowdy 
Wynnewood, PA
Elana Benasutti 
Rachel Vaughan 
Team member

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