Rick Springfield returns to Cape Girardeau to help raise money for pediatric brain tumor research

Friday, June 29, 2012
Rick Springfield performed a benefit concert for Sahara Aldridge at the Show Me Center Dec. 8, 2006. (Fred Lynch)

Many rock musicians work to project a tough-guy image to complement their guitar riffs and aggressive vocals on stage. Rick Springfield is proof that rock stars have a softer side.

Springfield reached fame through hits such as "I've Done Everything for You," "Don't Talk to Strangers," "Affair of the Heart," "Love Somebody" and "Jessie's Girl." More recently, he has become known for his philanthropy and long-standing support of the Hoops for Life Charity, a not-for-profit organization that raises money for pediatric brain tumor research, in memory of Sahara "Hoops" Aldridge.

He will hold benefit concert July 21 at the Bedell Performance Hall on Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus. An opening ceremony will begin at 8 p.m., with the concert kicking off at 8:30 p.m. All proceeds from the concert will go directly to the pediatric brain tumor research program at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University.

"Rick has been a family friend for many years," said Shannon Aldridge, Sahara's father and founder of the Hoops for Life Charity. "It was Sahara's dream for Rick to come to Cape. The fundraiser was so successful the first time that we wanted to ask Rick back."

Sahara was the daughter of Shannon and Amy Aldridge. She was diagnosed with a brain-stem glioma, which she battled for 17 months. Sahara passed away Nov. 5, 2007, at age 13. There is no known cure for brain-stem glioma.

Pictures of Sahara Aldridge with musician Rick Springfield were on display Nov. 11, 2007 at a celebration of life service in her honor at Lynwood Baptist Church. (Fred Lynch ~ flynch@semissourian.com)

Springfield and the Aldridge family's relationship began accidentally. Springfield randomly picked Sahara and her mother, Amy Aldridge, from the crowd and brought them on stage at one of his concerts. Springfield first played in Cape Girardeau for Sahara in 2006 as a result of both her personal request and to help pay her medical bills.

Springfield said he remembers Sahara quite fondly.

"Sahara was a shining light and drew people to her. Even my road-weary and battle-hardened band were suckers for her smile," Springfield said. "I am hoping for a great turnout to honor Sahara's memory and to do some good for other kids with cancer."

Hoops for Life

In addition to the Springfield concert, Hoops for Life is hosting a 5K Run/Walk, also to benefit pediatric brain tumor research at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. The 5K Run/Walk, which begins at 8 a.m. July 21 at Kiwanis Park in Cape Girardeau, promises to reach a record number of participants. This is the third year for the annual run/walk, and the organization expects the event to raise even more money than last year.

Kevin Hammes, right, was the overall winner of male runners with a time of 18:38 in the Hoops for Life 5K Run at Kiwanis Park in Cape Girardeau oon Saturday. Celebrating his second-place finish was Brandon Shemonia, left.

Sahara's family formed the Hoops for Life Charity to raise funds to support awareness and research on pediatric brain tumors. The family feels that raising money to help other children as well as supporting research toward finding cures for childhood cancers is a fitting way to honor Sahara's memory, according to correspondence the Southeast Missourian received from the Aldridge family.

"For a 5K Run/Walk in its first year, about 100 to 150 participants is pretty typical. I never imagined that we'd have 325 people show up. It's almost unheard of," Aldridge said, referring to the 2010 Hoops for Life 5K Run/Walk. "Last year, we had 562 people attend and raised over $9,000. This year, who knows. I'm hoping for a great turnout."

All ages are welcome to register for the run/walk. Before July 7, the registration fee is $21. Then it's $25 until July 14. From July 14 until the day of the race, registration costs $30.

A T-shirt is guaranteed for those who register before July 7. Divisions are separated both by age and gender. Runners are competing, while those interested in the event but not interested in competing are encouraged to sign up to walk. Awards will be given to all runners, while the top three runners in each division will receive a medallion.

"We have one of the best causes and, as far as I'm aware, are the only foundation that hosts 5k Run/Walks in the area that writes a check directly to the organization we're donating to. There's no middleman," Aldridge said.

Shannon Aldridge's most recent tattoo is a tribute to his daughter Sahara, who died from cancer in November 2007.

Aldridge said he was excited that Hoops for Life is bringing such a big name to Cape Girardeau to celebrate the 5K Run/Walk. Aldridge runs marathons across the country. Often, he said, organizers of the marathons will bring in a big-name concert for runners after the marathon is over. Aldridge said he wanted to do something similar for the Hoops for Life run/walk.

"I am hoping to run in the 5K, but I'm not sure of my schedule," Springfield said.

Tickets can be ordered by contacting the River Campus box office at 651-2265 or online at rivercampusevents.com. Registration forms for the Hoops for Life 5K Run/Walk can be picked up at Missouri Running Co., PMac Music, Fitness Plus, the Cape Girardeau and Jackson locations of HealthPoint Fitness, Top of the Line Consign, the North Pointe location of Subway, the Osage Centre and the Arena Building.

The registration form is also available online at caperoadrunners.org or at hoopsforlife.net.

rovermann@semissourian.com

Hoops for Life 5K Run/Walk last year gathered nearly 600 participants.

388-3688

Pertinent Address:

518 South Fountain Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Kiwanis Park. Rotary Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

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