by Cori Hilsgen
Music fans will have a chance to listen to some local performances to help raise awareness of and fund research for Alzheimer’s disease.
Local talent will gather for the second annual “Rock For Alzheimer’s” event from 2-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, in the parking lot behind Bad Habit Brewing Co. in St. Joseph.
The event will immediately follow the Alzheimer’s Association/Walk to End Alzheimer’s being held that morning in St. Cloud.
The Rock for Alzheimer’s event will include performances by “Slip Twister,” “Collective Unconscious,” “Walter’s Wheelhouse” and “The Killer Vees.”
In addition to the outdoor main stage, the event will also include a youth-talent stage where younger area musicians can showcase their talents.
The event was created last year by Jeff and Tommy Vee, sons of pop legend Bobby Vee, and the family of Irene Linn, in conjunction with the St. Cloud Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota and Bad Habit Brewing Co. Both Bobby Vee and Linn are now deceased. Both suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Organizers wanted to help raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease research and support to try to find a cure for the disease.
Vee, born Robert Thomas Velline, was a famous 1960s singer and musician who was diagnosed at age 67 with Alzheimer’s disease. He retired in 2011 after his family learned of his disease. He performed at various retirement shows, including Joetown Rocks, an annual event he helped create in St. Joseph. Vee died Oct. 24, 2016 at the age of 73. His wife Karen, died in 2015 after receiving a lung transplant several years before.
Linn, of Avon, was a widowed mother of five boys: Steve, Phil, Sam, Eric and Mike. She was diagnosed at age 58 in 2009 with Alzheimer’s disease. Her sons restored a 1980 Chevrolet Scottsdale pickup truck their father, Ron, had purchased new before his death, and Irene traveled around in. Restoring the truck was one of the ways the brothers tried to come to grips with understanding their mother’s illness. Linn died April 19 at the age of 65.
Jeff Velline said the event will raise both funding and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease locally while also giving families and friends of Alzheimer’s disease patients a chance to listen to great music and share their own stories.
Free-will donations will be accepted at the door. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to fund “The Bobby and Karen Vee Scholarship for Youth Arts and Music in Central Minnesota.”
“We are determined to do our part to end this horrible disease and to support those who suffer from it, as well as their caregivers,” Jeff and Tommy said in a statement released about the event. “Everyone has a story, so please come out and enjoy a great day of music and share yours.”
All ages are welcome. Food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.
Jeff said the goal for this year’s event is to exceed last year’s success and to continue to grow the event as an annual fundraiser.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will begin at 10 a.m. at Lake George. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. The Linn Family will be the honorary family for the opening ceremony of the walk.
The family is now committing its efforts to lobbying for more funding for research, support and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease at the capitol.
Organizers of this year’s Rock for Alzheimer’s event include Jeff Vee and Tommy Vee, of Rockhouse Productions, Bad Habit Brewing Co. and the St. Cloud chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Alzheimer’s is one of the nation’s leading causes of death and is expected to increase as the Baby-Boomer generation ages.
According to the alz.org website, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but it can occur in earlier years. About 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s). More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.
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