Rock for Life benefit looks to heal with music
Steve Craven just shakes his head in amazement.
“Without a doubt, these kids are amazing. The bravery and perseverance they have is second to no one. What they have to endure every day blows my mind,” the Bethel Township resident says. “I don't know if I could do it. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have my health and the life I live.”
The musician is referring to the young people facing serious medical challenges who, for the past 14 years, have been the beneficiaries of the fundraising Rock for Life concert weekend at Iselin Ballfield, near Apollo-Ridge High School, returning Aug. 2 and 3, and other Rock for Life events throughout the year.
“In today's society, there are a lot of people complaining about trivial things, especially in social media,” Craven says. “It really frustrates me. Compared to these kids, they really have no reason to feel sorry for themselves or their situations.”
Craven, with After the Fall bandmate Matt Ferrante of Avonmore, are Rock for Life founders and organizers. They also are members of Slant6, the band seen in the recent Matt Damon film, “Promised Land,” shot in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Presented by Mooseheart Charities of Leechburg Moose, about $5,000 is raised just in Rock for Life summer activities, and an estimated $100,000 has been raised since the charity was started.
“The Moose has done an amazing job in taking this event to the next level. Without them, and their manpower and means, Rock for Life wouldn't exist,” Craven says.
What the Rock for Life summer weekend is all about “is a large number of bands, volunteers and great people getting together to help out some kids in need by putting on a great rock 'n' roll show,” Ferrante says. “It's about giving something back and having a great time while doing it.”
It is a full concert experience with Alle-Kiski and regional bands, Ferrante says, with a “great” light and sound show on a huge stage, hundreds of spectators, free camping and food, tattoo and merchandise vendors, all in a friendly, safe environment.
Genres include hard rock, punk, classic rock, acoustic rock, modern rock, heavy metal and country. Mega Force Records' X Factor1 from Columbus, Ohio, headlines Aug 3. All My Monsters is the closer Aug. 2. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.rockforlifeconcert.com.
“If you love music, the outdoors and helping people who are less fortunate than us, then you should attend this event,” Craven says. “This has become an annual ritual for a lot of people.”
Profits this year will go to the medical needs of Alicia Hruby, 14, of Monongahela, who is on the waiting list for a liver transplant, and who has an enlarged spleen and suffers from bone pain that leaves her unable to walk long distances without crutches or a transport chair.
She is a former student of teacher Bill Domiano of Leechburg, who is a Rock for Life volunteer and creator-host of his labor of love, the Pennsylvania Rock Show (www.parockshow.com), a commercial-free online radio show/podcast that keeps the spotlight on the local music and unsigned-band scene.
“(Alicia) has a rare condition that only 30 other people in the world have been diagnosed with,” Domiano says. “She has had two different autoimmune diseases attack her liver, and as a result will need a full liver transplant.”
Domiano says autoimmune liver disease is a lifelong illness and Hruby will need blood transfusions before surgery and occasionally to bring up the platelet levels while awaiting the transplant surgery.
The concert weekend is not just about money, Craven says. “We, as a group, try and make this an event that Alicia Hruby (and others) will remember forever,” he says. “We have a limo picking her up, we went to 105.9 the X (radio station) to hang out. We still have contact with several past recipients.”
“We hope that we can help out some kids, even if it's only for a day feeling like a rock star,” Ferrante says. “We basically never stop doing benefits and raising money for charity. As long as people keep showing up, we will keep have the show.”
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.