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Benefit concert raises $150,000

Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Staff Photographer
Justin Furstenfeld, guitarist for Blue October, performs June 7 at The Marc as part of the BandTogetherTX benefit concert.

Community members of all ages gathered at The Marc  June 7 to raise money for Central Texas flood victims.

Omar Dawoud, owner of The Marc and applied sociology senior, said 1,100 people purchased tickets to the Band Together TX benefit concert. The concert featured Blue October, Aaron Behrens, Ray Wylie Hubbard and other local musicians working to raise money to be donated via United Way of Hays County.

“It all started when I saw how severe the flood was via online news,” Dawoud said. “My immediate thought was to text the mayor and see what I can do, because I knew I could do something.”

After reaching out to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, Dawoud said he was put in contact with the band Blue October, who had offered to help.

“From there it all made sense because I host concerts and they provide music,” Dawoud said. “The fact that I knew I could do something that could potentially help someone in some way really triggered my need to get this event up and running as soon as possible.”

Dawoud said the combined efforts of Blue October drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld, Guerrero and many other supporters helped the concert to move seamlessly through the planning stage.

“With the combined efforts of (Furstenfeld), the mayor and I, along with tons of other volunteers and sponsors, the event was able to come about rather smoothly,” Dawoud said. “It took only ten days for the event to come to life, and tickets were sold out in two days.”

Dawoud said community leaders met early on to discuss which local charity they should collaborate with.

“Our top priority above all was to ensure the money raised went into the right hands and is utilized as much as possible, which is where United Way comes in,” Dawoud said. “The reason we selected this charity was because, out of all of the other presentations, they pledged to donate 100 percent of what we raise with no administration fee, and they promised to get the money out immediately.”

Michelle Harper, president and CEO for United Way of Hays County, said the charity has a long history of delivering funds directly to the right people.

“It just made sense that the charity selected was a charity that, for 30 years, has been in the business of raising funds and giving it to those in most need,” Harper said.

Dawoud said the amount of money raised exceeded his expectations.

“When the idea of holding something like this came about, I figured we could make at least $30,000, which was amazing to me,” Dawoud said. “As of (June 7) we raised approximately $150,000.”

Dawoud said he is confident the number will grow based on the amount of donations made at the event and the option to contribute online.

“Donating everything from the bar, including tips, silent auctions, T-shirts and a ‘text to donate’ option during the show, makes me think we are almost certain to surpass the $150,000 we have already achieved,” Dawoud said.

Dawoud said he and Blue October members both jumped at the chance to help the community.

“Those affected are our neighbors, friends and family, so we are happy to contribute a helping hand,” Dawoud said. “This is our hometown. I’ve been living here for 20 years now and Blue October has been here for over 20 years.”

Furstenfeld said those involved in planning the event dropped everything to help their city.

“People have given so much of their time, money and efforts,” Furstenfeld said. “Everyone involved was working late nights to organize this. These people have day jobs and families and yet still give so much, which makes me so grateful.”

Furstenfeld said “San Marcos Strong” is not just a saying to place on a T-shirt. Residents proved their strength by pulling together in a time of crisis.

“We really are a strong, tight-knit community, and that has been made obvious by our ability to come together in times of need,” Furstenfeld said.

Guerrero said every person involved with the event played an instrumental role.

“Whether you attended, donated, performed, volunteered or what have you, the ability of the community to come together to raise money and the spirits of everyone affected is amazing,” Guerrero said. “This event is truly a blessing.”

Furstenfeld said people looking to help are encouraged to donate online even though the concert has ended.