Nearly five-hundred people woke up this morning still smiling and laughing after Jay Leno’s performance at the Jane Pickens Theater last night.

This one-night-only show, which sold out in less than ten minutes, benefited a veteran Newport firefighter who is currently battling cancer.

The event was organized and put on by The Firehouse Theater, Jane Pickens Theater, and What’sUpNewp.

Leno, who recently put down roots in Newport with the purchase of Seafair, heard of the firefighter’s story and wanted to host this show in his new part-time hometown to support the first responder.

The firefighter just began his third round of chemo and is focused on fighting this with everything he has. For the sake of being overwhelmed with messages and media requests, he has asked not to be identified to the media or general public at this time.

The firefighter, his family, and dozens of fellow Newport firefighters were able to be among the nearly five-hundred in attendance for the special night.

Leno had the crowd roaring in laughter for ninety minutes, many sharing after the show that they were laughing so hard that they were crying and their sides were hurting.

Photo by Rick Farrell for What’sUpNewp & What’sUpRhodeIsland

It wasn’t all laughs, Leno took a moment at the end of his routine to honor all of the firefighters, police officers, nurses, and first responders in the room. He asked those who serve to stand up and the audience gave these members a loud round of applause, as well as three loud yells of “Thank You” led by Leno.

Leno ultimately closed his set with some words about humanity, its innate goodness, and by reminding people to be good and decent. His message resonating and moving many.

Leno was met with a large round of applause and standing ovation at the beginning of the show, and an even louder and larger applause and standing ovation at the end of the night.

Jane Pickens Theater will pass on the proceeds from ticket sales (after some small expenses) directly to the firefighter in the coming days.

“What a wonderful memorable evening! Many thanks  to Jay Leno. for
helping us raise over $30,000 to help a local firefighter,” Kathy Staab, Owner of Jane Pickens Theater stated. “We enjoyed partnering with the Firehouse Theater & What’s Up Newp and hope to
work together again soon.”

Just moments after finishing his ninety minute set, Leno made his way through the crowd to spend some time with the firefighter and his family, whom he’s had several phone calls with during the last few weeks.

“I’ll never forget this night and what Jay, what you guys, and what this community did for me,” the emotional firefighter shared with me before heading home to rest before heading back to the hospital for more appointments this morning.

Photo Gallery

All photos by Rick Farrell for What’sUpNewp & What’sUpRhodeIsland

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.