Long Island’s Grass Roots Efforts Gets Emma a Lift
I was first introduced to Emma Nelson through Mark Klein of the Long Island Blues Warehouse and WUSB’s Sam Taylor Blues hour. Mark also volunteers on the pediatric floor of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, where he brings musicians to perform each week for the hospitalized kids. He came to me with the Nelson family’s dilemma, particularly as Emma grows. Emma is a 7 year old girl and the only female of the 200 reported cases of the rare blood disease, ATR-X (Alpha Thalassemia Mental Retardation X Linked). Every time Emma is to be transported to medical appointments she needs to be disconnected from her life sustaining equipment, carried to the family motor vehicle, placed and secured in a child safety seat and reconnected to a mobile life support system. All in less than two minutes while leaving her without oxygen during this process. It immediately occurred to us that Emma needs a van with a lift and other special safety features to maintain Emma, her wheel chair and her life support systems.
As a supporter and a fan of the Long Island Music Community, I have had the opportunity to observe how the musicians and their following have joined together to form support, not only for each other, but many worthwhile causes. It was only natural that through this extraordinary extended local music family and incredible Long Island community we could solve this dangerous ordeal for Emma and her parents.
Instantly joining our band were my sister, another avid Long Island music and blues fan, Angela Lombardo, Jill Siegel, a most talented and well known publicist in the music and entertainment field. A concert fundraiser to “Help Emma Get a Lift” was quickly conceived. The owners of 89 North Music Venue in Patchogue, New York were very generous in making arrangements for us to hold the concert at their club. Next, the performers signed on — Randy Jackson of Zebra, George Cintron and Clapton Cornicles and The Stanton Anderson Band. MOTU and Dee Chetta also joined the show for a three song set, one with Randy Jackson. We approached Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister and although the band was not available, they donated a one of a kind gift basket as a raffle prize that included a vintage poster signed by the entire band.
Once the show and the “Help Get Emma A Lift” (Long Islanders are helping Long Islanders) Fundraiser was announced, the most unexpected grass roots community effort immediately took hold and evolved organically over the next nine weeks The local music community showed its true colors in a manner that was consistently overwhelming. Musicians, supporters, friends, vendors and many others contributed incredible raffle prizes including four guitars, record collections, concert tickets, bike-athon and much more. Other local artists and their supporters were so incredibly generous, offering their shows as opportunities to announce the efforts and to ask for support, donating instruments, tickets and vineyard tours and tastings, just to name a few. The Facebook event page was filled with stories of “what can you do for Emma?” with answers including generous supporters creating their own mini fundraisers – a Tupperware party, a garage sale, passing the can at local concerts, soliciting local businesses to leave
customized cups with Emma’s flyers in the local stores – and “joining the band” to help Emma and her family raising even more funds than expected in advance of the initial event.
As members of the Long Island music community, we’ve seen firsthand how this close-knit family has come together, not only to support each other but to also support important issues. Aside from the great musical talent we have here, this event has proven that we have an extraordinary group of people who are truly committed to the performers and to the larger community. This action-ability was incredibly evident throughout the collaborative efforts of the Get Emma A Lift campaign which resulted in uniting a community as well as exceeding our initial monetary goal. Support came from every angle imaginable. EMMA NOW HAS HER LIFT!
You can still make a donation at The Go Fund Me Page: