May 30, 2014
“My grandfather fought Stage Four non-Hodgkins lymphoma for many years, so I know on a personal level how a cancer diagnosis can affect the emotional well being of the patient and their family,” senior Matt Wagner said. “I wanted to use my passion for music to help people.”
And thus began Wagner’s senior project.
“My project is called ‘Cancer Fears Me,’” Wagner said. “I created a benefit concert for the organization ‘Cool Kids Campaign.’ They help children with cancer to live better, happier lives.”
Wagner’s benefit concert took place on April 14 at the Bel Air Armory. “The first step to getting my project started was finding a venue and getting funding for it. When I was buying my car, I had the chance to talk to the sales manager at Bel Air Honda about my senior project. The sales manager, Terry Hanley, was formerly the Bel Air town commissioner. He said that he had worked with Cool Kids before and would do anything he could to help me.” Wagner said. Hanley covered the cost of the Armory for Wagner.
Wagner’s largest challenge was finding bands willing to play at the concert for free, as well as successfully advertising for the show. Wagner sent emails to the JC community advertising his event.
Not only did Wagner create, plan, and set up for the show, he was also in it. “One of my favorite moments from the concert was when I played ‘Sweet Caroline’ [the opening act] with [my uncle] Tom Sheppard,” he said.
“I feel really relieved that my project is finally over,” Wagner said. “I’m very proud of what I have done. I was able to raise $2,201 total for Cool Kids Campaign.”
Wagner not only raised over $2,000 for his cause, but he learned along the way. “This project has given me a better understanding of what it takes to create an event of this scale,” he said. “I have developed networking skills, made connections, and learned how to be a better and more effective leader. These are all useful, real life skills.”
Lauren Glase is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.