Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a devastating disease that has been described as "Parkinson's on steroids."
"I hate to say that's pretty accurate," said Steve Gorman, founding member of both The Black Crowes and more recently, Trigger Hippy. "It's the kind of disease that's very rare, it's very hard to diagnose and it's the kind of thing that's usually only diagnosed after all other neurodegenerative ailments have been eliminated. So it can take years to get a proper diagnoses."
Gorman will be in Peoria April 1 to play the "Getting The Word Out" Charity at the Holiday Inn Suites at Grand Prairie. The fundraiser for MSA is billed as "an information sharing and fun-filled event combining blues music, NCAA basketball, top-notch food, and a silent auction to raise awareness." A festive evening for a cause that has touched Gorman personally.
"My brother Jim who lives in Baltimore has MSA. He started showing symptoms in 2009 and did not get a clear diagnosis until 2014. It's a really hard road. It shows like Parkinson's if anyone's familiar with those symptoms. Generally speaking, balance issues, blood pressure fluctuations and general bodily function control starts to erode early on. And it can take four or five years for those symptoms to overwhelm the person suffering from it, or it can go from zero to six months. Every case seems to be unique," said Gorman.
Trigger Hippy itself won't be in town, but Gorman and a couple band mates, including another brother (Tom) will headline the music April 1. He credits Tom for his initial foray into music.
"The reason I wanted to play drums in the first place was I had an older brother that played guitar, and I thought we should be in a band together. I learned later in life a band with brothers is not necessarily the best thing," winked Gorman in a subtle reference to Black Crowes mates Chris and Rich Robinson, known for their frequent squabbles.
Peoria's rising blues juggernaut The Smokers Blues Band will also play. SBB member Hal Duckett said when he heard about the event, he was on board.
"I believe its a noble cause, I don't normally get on board every benefit that comes down the pike, but this one? I’m all in," said Duckett.
Event organizer Larry Kellerman of Washington, Illinois lost his wife Colleen to the disease. Together they hosted a fundraiser at the 2014 Central Illinois Blues Festival, and with donations from Joe Bonamassa and Warren Haynes and harmonica signed by Delbert McClinton, they raised about $1000. Earlier that year they held a college basketball fundraiser that included a basketball challenge against Colleen and her skills.
"During her last 8-9 months suffering from the disease, we had a lot of long chats," said Kellerman. "She told me she hoped I'd continue doing these events and to always remember to build awareness of the disease and have fun in the process. That's what got this started," said Kellerman.
The 2017 "Gettin' The Word Out" event is Saturday, April 1 from 4 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Holiday Inn & Suites at Grand Prairie in Peoria. In addition to the music and fun, MSA researchers Dr. Vik Khurana of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Innsbruck, Austria based Dr. Gregor Wenning will conduct a live-stream presentation and Q&A about MSA and future research directions.
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