Concerts for Care funds Crohn’s Disease cure

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Jessica Lu, staff writer2011SH154

Junior Alex Massachi created his own charity organization Concerts for Care to raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).  Two years ago in November, Concerts for Care raised $10,000 to fund research concerning Crohn’s disease and colitis.

According to the CCFA’s website, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.  Colitis is characterized by open sores in the colon. Both intestinal diseases affect 700,000 Americans today.

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The non-profit organization started when one of Massachi’s fellow piano classmates was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

“One of my [piano] teacher’s students had Crohn’s disease and became really sick.  I thought of doing this to help his cause and help him, so we did this concert for him,” Massachi said.

Piano teacher Shilla Hekmat hosted the event at her house.  Twenty-five students performed, displaying musical talents by playing instruments and singing.

“We raise money through the admissions tickets and the raffle tickets for a prize and charitable donations,” Massachi said.  “After the concert, we put it all into our non-profit account and we send it to the foundation to a representative of CCFA.”

Two hundred people were in attendance, including Vanessa Williams and Rick Fox, supporting their 12 year-old daughter Sasha Fox, who performed in the concert.  Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, and Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, were also at the event.  Massachi expects that these people, among others, will be present at their 2013 spring event.

“It’s going to be at the Beverly Hills Country Club,” Massachi said.  “We’re going to advertise in newspapers…this year we’re going to try to raise 15 to $20,000.”

Currently, Massachi is working toward setting up the program and finalizing the date with the country club.

“We’re starting to pick the students who want to perform, we’re evaluating them, we’re starting the work but most of the work comes in the first two months before the event, now there’s not much to do but have the kids work on their songs,” Massachi said.

Massachi wants to host another concert during his senior year.  He also has given thought to the future of Concerts for Care after his graduation.

“I’m going to bequeath the organization to one of the other teacher’s other students who I really admire,” Massachi said.  “It’ll get passed down.”

Concerts for Care sets an example for students who wish to bring beneficial change in their communities through starting their own charitable organizations.

“I know it’s been done by other ambitious students, but his level of success is extraordinary for his age,” junior Jonathan Hazon said.  “I’m amazed at his generosity toward finding the cure for a disease that I, to be honest, hadn’t been fully aware of at first.”

Massachi related that while he faced the usual hardships at first, his dedication to assisting his friend and others affected propelled him forward.

“You have to stay up to date with it and follow through,” Massachi said.  “When I first started, it was really hard.  I could have given up at any time, but a lot of people pushed me through it.”

 

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