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Donnie Wahlberg performs at Generation Rescue’s Go Home With Donnie Again on June 19, 2017 in St. Charles, Illinois. Photos by Timothy Hiatt

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DAVENPORT — He stopped each time someone called his name, honored every request for a photo, and took a sincere interest in everyone he met.

Friday, before addressing a sold-out luncheon and meet-and-greet to benefit Gilda’s Club Quad Cities, Donnie Wahlberg shared time with patients and staff at the Genesis Cancer Institute.

Dressed in a blue suit, red tie and brown shoes, the member of the band New Kids on the Block and star of television’s “Blue Bloods” played to packed houses everywhere he went Friday.

Also the star of the unscripted shows “Wahlburgers” and “Donnie Loves Jenny,” Mr. Wahlberg visited Gilda’s Club and Genesis before before the noon luncheon at Davenport’s RiverCenter.

“You guys here at Genesis are the real stars,” Mr. Wahlberg said, speaking before a packed lobby filled with patients and staff. “It is amazing, the work you do. I appreciate that you applauded when I was introduced, but you are the ones who should be applauded.”

Mr. Wahlberg shared with fondness a story about the first time New Kids played Davenport 30 years ago, then set his sights on the work the institute does.

“I cannot be more proud of the strength you show,” Mr. Wahlberg said, stopping to talk with Davenport’s Kelsey Burmeister, just after Ms. Burmeister completed a cancer treatment. “It takes great resolve. I admire you. Please stay; walk with us.”


Mr. Wahlberg said he has learned to draw each day on the Gilda’s Club message.

“I have learned that message — ‘all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community’ — carries a great deal of weight,” he said. “It’s something I have taken to with everything in life.”

With the help of Sue Warren, executive director of Gilda’s Club, Ms. Burmeister secured a New Kids poster. She asked Mr. Wahlberg to sign the poster. Without hesitation, he did.

“I should be the one asking her for her autograph,” he said.


Donnie Wahlberg will be featured at the 7th Annual Intimate Conversations fundraiser to benefit Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities on Friday at the RiverCenter in Davenport.

Tickets remain available for 7th Annual Intimate Conversations fundraiser to benefit Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities at noon Friday at the RiverCenter in Davenport.

The event will feature Donnie Wahlberg, a driving force behind the New Kids on the Block in the 1980s-90s who now stars with Tom Selleck in the CBS TV show “Blue Bloods” and is an executive producer of another TV show, “Boston’s Finest.”

The 46-year-old from Dorchester, Mass., also is executive producer of the Emmy nominated unscripted series “Wahlburgers,” a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant owned by his brother Paul and efforts to make the business into an international chain eatery.

Donnie Wahlberg and his wife, Jenny McCarthy, also have their own TV show, “Donnie Loves Jenny.”

Tickets for Friday’s event are $55 each or $440 for a table of eight; call 563-326-7504. A meet-and-greet with Mr. Wahlberg is sold out.