Ohio group coming to Cape concert

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Michael Manning

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- A Cincinnati broadcast journalist who's between jobs has found a new temporary occupation -- mobilizing as many people as possible from his hometown to visit Cape Girardeau for Rick Springfield's Dec. 8 "Concert for Sahara."

Michael Manning, a broadcaster who has worked with ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates in radio and TV, has rented a 56-seat tour bus he hopes to fill with Cincinnati residents for the local Springfield concert.

Manning is a self-proclaimed Springfield superfan, calling the TV and music star one of the world's best rock 'n' roll musicians.

"He is really, in my estimation, what a rock 'n' roll concert is supposed to sound like," Manning said.

On Dec. 8, Springfield will play a benefit concert for local 12-year-old Sahara Aldridge at the Show Me Center, Aldridge was diagnosed with brain-stem cancer this summer and is receiving treatment locally and at a Houston hospital. Springfield has known Sahara and her family for about seven years, and decided earlier this fall to perform a benefit concert in her hometown at the Show Me Center.

Manning learned about Sahara and her battle against cancer on Springfield's Web site, where Springfield encourages fans to give spiritual and monetary support to Sahara and her family. Soon after reading Sahara's story, Manning said, he had an urge to help that came over him one day at a Bob Evans restaurant. Manning has a history of cancer in his family, so he said he understands how hard battling the disease can be.

Through rallying people around this cause, Manning hopes to help Cincinnati overcome its social and economic ills. Manning said his hometown is experiencing crime and economic problems -- including being ranked as one of the nation's 20 most dangerous cities.

"It became a mandate for me to get a bus, get people on it, and do this as a grassroots initiative to show that the people of Cincinnati have love and compassion," Manning said.

Manning paid for the bus himself, at a cost of $2,500. He said he's not worried about the money, he just wants to fill the bus, maybe two if he can. Manning is using his Web site, www.michaelmanning.tv, to spread the word about his initiative. He's also trying to get media coverage in Cincinnati to get the word out to people interested making the seven-hour trip to Cape Girardeau.

Sahara's father, Shannon Aldridge, has heard about Manning's efforts.

"People just don't do things like this," Shannon Aldridge said.

The most recent tests on Sahara's tumor showed the growth on her brain stem was shrinking, he said. She's also started going back to school at Central Junior High part time and is undergoing physical therapy at Saint Francis Medical Center.

Show Me Center marketing director Shannon Buford said so far ticket sales are where the venue expected them to be three weeks before the concert, but numbers weren't available. Overall the venue is planning for a crowd of 2,000 to 2,500.

All proceeds from ticket sales after expenses are paid will go to benefit Sahara and her family. Springfield is playing the concert for free.

For more information on the concert, visit www.showmecenter.biz.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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