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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Rock for Brazil III

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fourteen-year-old Zach Ellis, who struggles with a degenerative disease called Multiple Sclerosis, shows off his musical talents during an interview with The Times. On Saturday, Nov. 19, 18 local bands will come together to support and raise funds for Ellis and for Multiple Sclerosis by playing in the Rock for Brazil III. Admission bracelets will be $15, and T-shirts will be on sale for $13. [Order this photo]
* Concert to benefit youth with MS

Eighteen bands will use their "God-given musical talents" to help a 14-year-old young man in need of medical assistance Saturday, Nov. 19, from 1-11:30 p.m.

Funds raised from Rock for Brazil III will go to help Zach Ellis obtain the necessary medication he needs to continue living a quality life.

"God gave us these talents," Ida Mae Sheriff's vocalist and guitarist Ron Kiernicki explained. "We (the musicians) want to use them to give back to Zach and people like him who are also in need."

Zach was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when he was 8-years-old. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune response attacks a person's central nervous system.

Patients living with the disease often lose control of their motor skills. When Zach was 3, he contracted meningitis.

"Meningitis can cause MS to surface," Zach's mother, Laura Thompson, told The Brazil Times previously. "From ages 3-8, he spent a lot of time in the hospital. (Doctors) thought he had a rare form of meningitis."

But after an unproductive trip to a Minnesota clinic, a neurologist at Riley Hospital for Children mentioned MS when Zach was 7.

Zach was officially diagnosed after his 8th birthday.

To alleviate pain, Zach takes two injections per week of medication in addition to various other medications, including an anti-seizure medication.

"When I hurt, I can't stand it," he said.

He hasn't had a seizure since 2009.

"My brother Caleb helped out the last time I had a seizure," Zach said. "He called the ambulance, and made sure we didn't play the same video game that caused the seizure again."

In addition to MS, Zach has a chronic lung disease and has to undergo breathing treatments twice a day.

He's been on medication since 2005 and his doctor's recently prescribed another medication that Zach's family is struggling to pay for and insurance is not being as cooperative as the family would like.

"Without his medicine, he has trouble with his legs. He has to have it," Laura said. "It's a Vitamin B compound and you can't just go buy it over the counter at a drug store. It helps his nervous system."

In the past, Zach has had to re-learn how to walk two different times and has had eight spinal taps.

He suffers from terrible burning sensations in his legs, and he is very uncomfortable in extreme heat.

It is believed Zach is the youngest person in the Wabash Valley diagnosed with MS.

Every year in September, Zach's family takes part in the Walk for MS at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) and Laura has organized a June event called Zach's Ride, where community members participate in a motorcycle ride through Brazil and neighboring towns all the way to Rockville, returning to Brazil.

"I decided to put it together," Laura said. "Everybody's been really great."

The cost to ride is $10 per person and all proceeds are donated to the MS walk at SMWC.

In light a the recent struggles with the insurance company, Zach's family is in need of additional help and some of Laura's friends have stepped up to offer support by giving this year's proceeds from Rock for Brazil to Zach and the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

"I have such good friends," Laura said. "They've been given a gift, and they are using it to give back. That's how it's supposed to be."

During the Rock for Brazil, community members can enjoy a variety of local musical groups at three different locations and a dinner for $15 with an event bracelet.

There will be three stages set up at Traditions, Coach's Time Out and The Bounty and the 18 bands will take turns rocking the house for Zach's benefit.

With an event bracelet, patrons are granted admission into all three venue locations. The bracelet also supplies individuals with dinner from Pappy's Bar-B-Que.

Meanwhile, participating band members say they feel they are doing the right thing by volunteering to play for a good cause.

"We can use our talents to make money for ourselves," Kiernicki said, "but you have to be able to give back what you've been blessed with."

The entertainment groups will perform various types of music, including cover songs, rock/blues, rock and classic rock, funk, 50s, country, rap and open genre.

The bands slated to play include 15th and Hulman, Travis Dillion, The Yearbook Committee, Don't Bother Me, Ross Hickman, Decimating Tomorrow, Trick Bag, Z-Huffer, Any Day But Sunday, Therapy, Chinese Jail Break, King Arlo 2 Tall, Four Days in Space, Big Dead Bird, Funk 59, Ida Mae Sheriff, Kings of Rhythm and Devan Howard.

Many of those performing are original bands that write their own songs. In addition to playing for free, some band members, like Big Dead Bird bass player Jeremy Palm, have volunteered to help organize and set up, something Laura said she's not used to, but really appreciates.

"Most of the time, I have to take care of everything myself," she said. "But Jeremy has been wonderful. He's offered to do a lot to help me."

Over the years, certain band members have developed friendships to Zach. They've found common ground through their mutual love of music.

Zach enjoys listening to vinyl albums. He really loves bands like The Beatles, AC/DC, Metallica and songs like "Another One Bites The Dust," by Queen, or "Smoke On The Water," by Deep Purple.

Zach plays clarinet for the North Clay Middle School Concert Band and is currently trying to learn guitar.

"Music has always inspired me. You do it (perform) with people who are your friends," Zach said. "And you ask others to help you learn fingerings and how to play the keys."

Laura said she feels blessed to have such strong community support.

"They always say you find out who your friends are when times get tough," she said. "When we met tough times, we've had people rally around us. It makes it easier to see the positive side of things and to want to help someone else."

During the event, Pappy's will serve pulled pork, pulled chicken, fried sweet corn, green beans, baked beans with a choice of lemonade or tea.

Event T-shirts will also be available for $13.

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The Time Out and Traditions are both all ages venues. Kids 10 and under are $8. We will also be moving the start up times for the bands to 4pm.

-- Posted by TrisJack on Mon, Oct 24, 2011, at 1:06 PM

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