'Concert for Sahara' bigger success than first thought

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Friday night's "Concert for Sahara" raised more money than officials at the Show Me Center initially estimated, the center's director David Ross said Monday.

The concert was a collaborative effort between music and TV star Rick Springfield and the Show Me Center to raise funds for local 12-year-old Sahara Aldridge in her battle against brain-stem cancer. Springfield donated his time for the concert, and the Show Me Center donated ticket merchandising sales to the cause. A silent auction with donated Springfield memorabilia also helped raise funds, as well as a collection taken at the venue from the 1,711 people in attendance.

Ross initially estimated about $50,000 was raised to help the Aldridge family pay for Sahara's expensive treatments, but Monday Ross estimated the figure was probably closer to $60,000. A solid figure wasn't available because the venue had not yet audited the funds, Ross said.

The concert was the biggest fund-raiser in the Show Me Center's history, Ross said. In the past, the venue hosted a fund-raiser for the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation featuring Sheryl Crow. This event was for a different type of cause and "it was driven by the artist," Ross said.

Ross said it was hard to say if the event exceeded expectations, since the Show Me Center and Springfield weren't sure just how much money they could raise for the cause.

Alan Sarratore with Doyle-Kos Entertainment, Springfield's management group, said the concert exceeded the Springfield camp's expectations.

"Everybody was thrilled at everything that came in, and all of the support was incredible," said Sarratore.

Springfield fans attended the concert from all over the United States. They had been familiarized with Sahara's story beginning this summer, when Sahara was diagnosed with cancer and Springfield, a friend of the Aldridge family for more than 7 years, posted her story on his Web site and asked his fans for financial and spiritual support for the girl.

"They raised more money than I could even imagine," Sahara's father Shannon said Monday while the family was in Houston for Sahara's medical evaluation. "That pays a lot of cancer bills.

"My family is absolutely humbled by what happened Friday night. We're still talking about it. We just can't believe it. In a bad situation, it was one really good night."

Since her diagnosis this summer, Sahara has been receiving cutting-edge treatments primarily at a Houston hospital, with some treatment at Saint Francis Medical Center.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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