Coffee House Fundraiser for Kerri (Hunter) Wilson. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Multi-instrumentalist and singer Tom Dowden will be joining the benefit concert this Sunday at the Hamiota Community Hall. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Last weekend it was the 15th annual Band Jam for Cancer fundraiser. This weekend local musicians are performing as part of a fundraiser for Kerri Hunter Wilson’s MS liberation therapy with a Coffee House Benefit Jam Session.
My friend Heather Dixon brought this to my attention and immediately backed the idea of local musicians helping a great cause. Let’s face it, whenever someone is suffering and toiling in a time of need, it’s always great to be able to do what we can whether we know that person or not.
Heather decided to get involved since the cause is one she’s all too familiar to her. She went in for CCSVI liberation treatment in 2010 to alleviate her multiple sclerosis symptoms.
This benefit concert was brought to her attention by Patty Hatfield who is also one of the many supporters for the event. She says the idea to have the local music community unite for a good cause was an easy decision.
"When possible, I know that local bands are great to volunteer their time for helping out with special events and fundraisers," Hatfield said. "The amount of talent in this region never ceases to amaze me! But we all know that not everyone can give all the time. It costs money for musicians or performers to participate in everything."
Kerri was diagnosed with MS at the age of 19. Now 37, she has dealt with a variety of physical setbacks including: blurred vision, blind spots, chronic pain and fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms and cognitive fog due to MS.
All the while she has remained amazingly upbeat while holding down a full-time job at Hatfield Financial and Insurance Services in Hamiota.
Undaunted by the debilitating disease, Wilson also managed to raise two daughters Bailey (14) and Logan (13).
She hopes to slow the progression of the disease with the costly treatment. CCSVI (Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency) liberation treatment is a potentially ground-breaking discovery for the treatment of MS.
It is thanks to the research of Dr. Paolo Zamboni and his team that we now know about this treatment. Zamboni began his research into MS with the desire to cure his wife.
Event organizer Heather Dixon recently had liberation therapy, and can attest to the fact that while it is quite costly, it does make a huge difference.
"A lot of people still ask me how I’m feeling following my own liberation in December of 2010," she said. "Well, I still feel great, but now the biggest thing that comes to mind is the huge cost savings to the Canadian taxpayer.
"At the time of my treatment, liberation hadn’t become such a routine procedure in the countries that offer it, so it was more money.
So, let’s consider the US$15,000 that it cost me to have it done. Prior to my treatment, my medication costs were nearly $1,600 per month; so after my pharmicare deductible, all this money came from the Canadian taxpayer (thank you). This past tax year, my total drug cost for the entire year was under $300 so I didn’t even surpass my deductible."
As for the procedure, Dixon says it was surprisingly quick.
"When I had the procedure, I was on the operating table for 50 minutes, and in a hospital bed for five hours following that. When I was released from the hospital, I went to the mall, where I had supper and saw a movie. Pretty easy stuff!"
Sounds like a simple solution to alleviate pain and suffering for MS patients. However, there’s more pain in the payment process due to a change in the system. While the operation costs are considerably lower, Wilson’s medication and travel costs will be much higher than they were in 2010 when Dixon had the treatment.
"Kerri’s current medication costs are more than mine were. It’s ridiculous that this procedure is not offered to MS patients in Canada, as not only does it restore quality of life, but would save the Canadian taxpayer millions of dollars. (Sorry — got on my soapbox for a second there). It is sickening though."
The procedure itself is US$8,000 at Synergy Health in California. Taking into consideration air and ground transportation fees as well as hotel and other incidental fees including pre and post-procedure prescription medications, the total will obviously run much higher — estimated in the $20,000 range.
What sorts of musical acts can attendees expect? Dixon says musically it will be a low decibel affair with high hopes of success.
"In the case with this fundraiser, it is most suitable for ‘unplugged’ performances, and this is an all-ages event, so you’re not likely to see any heavy metal bands that afternoon. But it’s gonna be a great time for a great cause."
Other than the musical entertainment, Dixon says there’ll be extras so those in attendance can pitch in and add further support, including a silent auction, 50/50 draw, cake walk, kids corner and refreshments. Coffee, tea and juice are included with admission.
Dixon realizes this will take an extreme effort on behalf of all involved to make this a success but the payoff is worth it.
"I hope everyone who reads this realizes the importance and difference this procedure will make in Kerri’s life and how much any donation would be appreciated."
The benefit concert will take place this Sunday at the Hamiota Community Hall from 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is $10, with children 10 and under free when accompanied by an adult.
Advance tickets are available by calling Wilson at 204-764-2696 or Tricia Hunter at 204-759-3257. Tickets will also be available at various locations in Hamiota.
If you ‘d like to lend support either through performing or with a prize donation, please call Patty Hatfield at 204-764-2591.
For those who can’t make it out to Hamiota for the benefit, there are accounts set up for the Kerri (Hunter) Wilson Liberation Fund at Vanguard Credit Union and Royal Bank of Canada here in Brandon.
As of press time, the list of performers set for the benefit include: Chris Verinder (acoustic, before and during intermission); multi-instrumentalist and singer Tom Dowden, Bailey Wilson (singing), Logan Wilson (singing), Tia Morgan (dance solo), Trista Morgan (dance solo), Mitchel and Nicholas Modzen (singing), Jamie Rose (singing), Alex Drummond (piano solo), the Usick Family, David Caldwell, Martin Finnie, Randi Wall, and Vera Bjornson, who will be singing a song accompanied by Alex Drummond on piano.
Congrats to Winnipeg on scoring the 2014 Juno awards! The MTS Centre is the place where the hardware honouring the best in Canadian music will be handed out. The last time Winnipeg hosted the Junos was in 2005. Back then the local economic impact of the awards was $5.5 million. Regina is hosting the awards show in April 2013. The Junos are put on by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and air on CTV.
More cool music news in our "Extra Happenings" section this week.
Hot on the heels of learning that veteran rockers Heart will be performing here in B-Town on March 15, the band that they, along with so many bands that came out of the ’70s idolized, is coming to a B-Town big screen.
"Celebration Day", the long awaited DVD/Blu Ray from Led Zeppelin’s reunion show at London’s 02, is set for commercial release.
Before the 2007 concert is sent to market, it will be shown on select theatre screens worldwide. Fortunately for Zep heads like me here in Westman, Brandon is the only Manitoba market where the spectacular concert will be shown! We’ll have more information on this exclusive event next week in Happenings.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 11, 2012