LightOfDay.org WinterFest 2016 Benefits For Parkinson’s Disease · January 8-18
Asbury Park (33 Events!) · New York City · Montclair NJ · Philadelphia
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Sources: New York Times, National Parkinson’s Foundation; LightOfDay.org
What started as a private party on the Jersey Shore has ballooned into one of rock music’s most celebrated charity events and has raised more than $3 million for research on Parkinson’s disease.
Light of Day Winterfest started in 2000, a few years after Bob Benjamin, a manager of rock bands and a longtime fixture on the Jersey Shore music scene, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s (PD). “The first one was basically a birthday party we threw together for him to show that we were there for him,” said concert promoter and Light of Day Foundation executive director Tony Pallagrosi. “But Bob called me and said: ‘You know that surprise party you’re having for me? There’s a Parkinson’s disease foundation in New York. Let’s use the party to get them donations.’”
The rest is worthy of a lengthy chapter in New Jersey rock history. Last year, the Light of Day Foundation, co-founded by Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Pallagrosi, has raised more than $500,000 for Parkinson’s research — a record amount — with 30 events in 14 countries, including Australia, Sweden and Canada. This year’s flagship festival, billed as Light of Day’s “Sweet Little 16” Celebration, will feature more than 280 acts from January 8 through 18 at sites in New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia.
Light of Day’s most prolific performers are (“Every year we clear the calendar for Light of Day”) and Bruce Springsteen (10 of 15 years). Others have included Michael J. Fox (who has PD), Ed Kowalczyk (Live), Darlene Love, Southside Johnny Lyon, and Garland Jeffreys, plus other locals like John Eddie, Jessie Malin and Joe D’Urso (who also serves as a LOD board member). Mr. Benjamin, of Highland Park, attends when his health allows.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder which nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with. It involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain. Some of those cells produce a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, it leaves a person unable to control movement normally.
The initial symptoms of PD include rigidity, tremor, uncontrollable movements, slowness of movement; difficulties with walking, posture, writing, speech, facial expressions, and swallowing; muscle pain, and general loss of motor skills.
Light Of Day’s missions are to fund research for possible cures and improved treatments for Parkinson’s Disease and related conditions Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); and to provide support for those with PD, their families and their caregivers that improves their quality of life.