Music and Barbecue benefit to raise funds for Sandy Via

VINTON–Great barbecue, great music, and making a contribution to a good cause are what’s  in store for those attending the “Friends of Sandy” concert and fundraiser on the Vinton Farmer’s Market on August 3. The event runs from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m. This is a family friendly, non-alcoholic event for all ages.

Her friends have organized a "Friends of Sandy" concert and fundraiser to help defray the cost of cancer treatments for Sandy Via. The combination concert and BBQ dinner will be held at the Vinton Farmer's Market on August 3 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the event.
Her friends have organized a “Friends of Sandy” concert and fundraiser to help defray the cost of cancer treatments for Sandy Via. The combination concert and BBQ dinner will be held at the Vinton Farmer’s Market on August 3 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the event.

John and Margo Brake, Jack and Jo Lynn Seifert, and Steve Shively have organized the benefit to help their close friend, Sandy Via, pay the accumulating bills for a year of cancer treatments.

Via was diagnosed in 2012 and has continued to work as the office manager at Professional Therapies, Inc., in Rocky Mount throughout her treatments and to raise her eight month old grandson.

Her friends say she is a “tough lady” who keeps working while many would stay home to rest and recuperate.

Via told Shively, “Why would I go home and feel bad, when I can just go to work and be with my patients, and there’s no time to think about feeling bad?”

Professional Therapies is a rehabilitation service with several branches throughout the region which provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Via’s friends say that Professional Therapies has been extremely supportive of her and flexible in accommodating her treatment schedule so that she can keep working. Her doctors’ goal currently is to put the cancer in remission and have intensified the treatments.

While her insurance pays for 80% of the costs of treatment, that leaves the rest for Via to finance, which can become costly when it involves up to 25 consecutive days of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The Wildfire Band are the featured performers at the event.  Via is a member of the band and also clogs with the Old Dominion Cloggers.

According to the organizers, “The Wildfire Band toured throughout the 1980’s, holding an impressive record as the opening act for many major artists.”

They played full time for about ten years up and down the East coast and out west. They were the house band at several first rate venues and would open for “big acts with big stars.” Shively and musician Gil Lancaster were members of the original Wildfire.

The band has recently been re-launched by band leader Shively, owner of Outlet Recording studio in Rocky Mount.  The newly formed group includes Gil Lancaster on keyboard; Freddie Rakes playing pedal steel; Jerry Prillaman, drums and vocals; Jerry Wood, fiddle and vocals; Steve Shively vocals, guitar, and banjo; and Sandy Via, vocals and bass.

Shively and his sister Margo grew up in Franklin County. He has been involved in the real estate business since 1987, but has also remained actively involved in the music scene with his recording studio and performs frequently at a variety of events throughout the area. For the past two years, Shively has done a weekly radio show in Rocky Mount (WYTI- 1570am) every Saturday from 11am to noon, called “Cricket Road Jamboree,” which is also streamed live.

Shively and Via met when she came to his studio wanting to play bass.

Members of the new Wildfire have impressive experience with music greats such as Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, the Churchmen, the Kendall’s, and Clinton Gregory, to name a few, says Shively. They play a wide variety of genres including Classic Country, Bluegrass, classics from the 50’s and more.

The idea for the fundraiser evolved over several months from the core group, many of whom are Parkway House of Prayer church members.  They chose the Vinton Farmer’s Market for the venue for the fundraising concert to a great extent because of Mary Beth Layman, Special Programs Director for the Town of Vinton, who has “bent over backwards to help them” says Seifert.

The emcee for the evening will be well-known local musician and entertainer Bobby Radford.

The barbecue will be cooked on the spot beginning early in the morning, by locally acclaimed Brad Radford, who is donating his time and talents for the occasion. Sysco food services has donated 150 pounds of pork. There will also be fixin’s and beverages for sale. The cost is $4 per sandwich or $6 per plate, with BBQ on sale to take home by the pound.

There will be 50/50 tickets on sale at the “Friends of Sandy” concert. The Wildfire Band acoustic CD will be available for purchase.

According to Shively, playing music is great therapy for Via and anyone going through cancer treatments.  One of the effects of those treatments is something called “brain fog.”

Research shows that 20 to 50% of cancer survivors are troubled by cognitive loss for months or even years after treatment, although most is mild and transient.  The exact cause isn’t entirely clear, but is possibly the result of the disease and the drugs affecting the balance of chemicals and hormones in the brain. However, the brain seems to have the ability to grow new cells and make new connections. Exercising the brain by such activities as playing a musical instrument can be quite beneficial.

“Music is an overall healer,” said Shively.

Margo Brake, who owns Bethel Ridge Assisted Living in Fincastle along with her husband John, says that “with Alzheimer’s patients the last cognitive skills they seem to lose are music and lyrics.”

Those who attend the “Friends of Sandy” concert are encouraged to bring their own chairs. The event will take place on August 3, rain or shine. The cost of admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under, and $15 for a family.

Those who can’t attend are encouraged to make a donation.  More information on making donations and on the concert are available by calling Margo Brake at 344-5309 or Jo Lynn Seifert at 890-6740.