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Rick Springfield performs benefit concert
Rick Springfield was center stage for a birthday celebration in memory of Sahara "Hoops" Aldridge on Saturday night at the River Campus' Bedell Performance Hall.
Amy and Shannon Aldridge, Sahara's parents, took the stage during the concert's opening ceremony.
Every day 36 people are diagnosed with cancer, Shannon Aldridge said.
"As a father, I felt helpless to protect my daughter against this disease. We're fighting to keep other mothers and fathers from feeling that helplessness," Aldridge said. "We're fighting for people we don't even know and will never meet."
Four of Sahara's classmates -- Lauren Dumey, Brodrick Twiggs and Mary and Riley Bauer -- took the stage and had the audience on their feet, singing and swaying to "Lean On Me."
As he dedicated the night to Sahara, Springfield, who just got in from Australia, said he took a nap when he got into town.
"I could swear I heard her laughing," Springfield said.
Springfield, an award-winning artist, is a friend of the family. Five years ago, Sahara's 17-month struggle with brainstem glioma, an incurable brain tumor, ended.
Earlier in the day the third annual Hoops for Life 5K Run/Walk was held at Kiwanis Park.
"Sahara would have been 18 next Tuesday," Shannon Aldridge said. "We had the biggest birthday party in Cape this morning with 651 of our closest friends."
The first year of the 5K Run/Walk in 2010 saw 325 participants. Last year that number jumped to 562, and they raised $9,100. This year 651 people registered, making it the largest fundraising walk between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn., for the second year in a row.
The final total for the morning's event is not yet available.
"I'm very confident we've raised more than last year," Aldridge said. "Let's just put it this way, we raised gobs of money. And that's not including the proceeds from tonight's show."
According to Ellen Farrow, the box office manager, 800 tickets were sold for the fundraiser, with 707 actually in attendance. Theater capacity is 941.
"That's incredible for a fundraiser," Farrow said.
The money raised goes to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University for pediatric brain tumor research. According to Amy Aldridge, they are researching a vaccine for brain cancer.
"When we send them a check," Shannon Aldridge said, "100 percent of the money goes into research. Every penny. That speaks volumes."
Angie Burns and her boyfriend, Tom Parker, came from Troy, Mo., to see the concert.
"It's great," Burns said.
As bunches of roses were placed on the stage from fans, Springfield bashed them against his guitar, sending rose petals flying across the stage and into the audience.
"I really like the part where he busted the roses," Parker said.
"The thing that matters the most, it ain't about the concert, not about the race," Shannon Aldridge said. "It's about the children. They are our next generation. The next president, stock car driver, lawyers, doctors."
Aldridge credits his passion for Hoops For Life to the 5K's growth in the past three years.
"After our 17-month battle, people know our heart's in the right place," he said.
1333 N. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO
Kiwanis Park, Cape Girardeau, MO