ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — What started off as a private party on the Jersey Shore has become a festival that has raised millions of dollars for Parkinson’s disease.
Many will tell you it’s rock music’s most celebrated charity events. CBS2’s Valerie Castro spoke to the man behind the Light of Day Winterfest on Thursday.
All eyes are glued to the performers on stage, but every year it’s a man and his noble cause the audience truly appreciates.
“I am amazed every day,” Bob Benjamin said.
In 1996, Benjamin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Instead of giving up, the band manager decided to do the opposite. He turned his birthday party that year into a charity event for the disease.
“It’s the only way I knew how to fight,” he said.
He had no idea that all these years later his efforts would lead to almost $5.5 million raised for Parkinson’s and a new foundation, Light of Day.
“It’s a disease that isolates. It debilitates. We are always hoping for that breakthrough that is really going to make a significant change in their lives,” said Tony Pallagrosi, the executive director of the foundation.
Every year, rock ‘n’ roll bands have gathered to perform during the 10-day festival. Glen Burtnik from the group The Weeklings brought down the house during a Manhattan kickoff event on Wednesday night.
“You have an audience that comes to see you making music and this is an opportunity to help out people,” Burtnik said.
Bruce Springsteen has performed in the past and the star-studded event has attracted other celebrities like actor Vincent Pastore from “The Sopranos.” But spectators and those diagnosed will tell you it’s Parkinson’s disease, and the fight to end it, that they want to concentrate on.
“It’s more than the music. It’s the cause. So we have to remind people why they’re here and where the money is going and all the good work that they do,” said Alan Jackowitz, who was diagnosed in 2008.
“It’s amazing all the support we get year after year,” Benjamin added.
Amazing support and incredible sounds, all in one place, to beat Parkinson’s.
The concert festival will conclude this weekend in Asbury Park with many acts. For more information on ticket pricing and event details, please click here.