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Main Event -- Come What May is good for Hope Lodge

By Emily Buss

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Powerful melodies, joyful voices and smiling faces weren’t the only things present at the ninth annual Hope Lodge benefit concert April 19 at Stewartville Methodist Church. An overwhelming outpouring of donations also was a big part in making the night special.

Jaymi Wilson of Rochester coordinated this year’s fundraiser with a central theme of que sera sera in mind. "Come What May," the event’s title, was explained by Wilson as nothing short of "awesome."

"We love this show and we all love to get together every year and perform," Wilson said. "It’s awesome to be able to do the concert and the Hope Lodge is so important and special to all of us."

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The purpose of the fundraiser was to allow the Hope Lodge in Rochester a chance to continue opening its doors to patients who are battling debilitating and often deadly illnesses. Along with free-will donations from those at the concert, Wilson said the founder of Best Buy matched the nearly $3,850 raised, bringing the night’s total to $7,700.

"It was an absolutely fantastic outcome," Wilson said. "This is the second-highest grossing concert we’ve had. I am so thrilled about the results."

More than 100 people clapped, sang and laughed along with the performers. One was Jammie Douglas, the Hope Lodge manager. She said the generosity and donations from people were more than appreciated.

"It’s so amazing and neat to see all the people come and participate and help out," Douglas said. "This is such a great cause and the concert is so beautiful. This all means so much to us."

Douglas’ grandmother, Nicole Tupper, also has special ties to Hope Lodge — she is a volunteer there.

Hope Lodge relies upon volunteers and donations to operate. In June 2007, the waiting list for guests at the lodge disappeared for the first time in nearly five years. A $5 million expansion doubled the lodge’s capacity to 56. Public donations totaled $2.5 million and Best Buy founder Richard M. Schulze and his family gave a matching grant.

Come What May is one ongoing community fundraiser for the lodge.

Michael Gardner, another coordinator of Come What May, led several gospel hymns and participated in "I’ll Cover You" — a song that left some people teary-eyed and everyone speechless.

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"I’ve sung in this concert for the last nine times," Gardner said. "I’ve been here since the very beginning. It’s just where I belong."

Laurie Helmers, another performer in the concert, surprised her husband, John Helmers, by singing a witty love song and bringing him on stage.

"I definitely was not expecting it," John laughed.

"It was so funny, but I think he knew that I was going to bring him on stage the second he heard me sing ‘Johnny Baby’," Laurie said. "It’s great that we can have so much fun and raise a lot of money for a good cause all at the same time."

Just as the need for Hope Lodge continues, donations will continue to be taken. To donate, make check out to Hope Lodge ; write "Come What May" on the memo line and donation will be matched.

The Main Event is a weekly feature highlighting fundraising events for a nonprofit organization in the Rochester area.

If you know of an event we should cover, call the newsroom at 285-7729 or send an e-mail to news@postbulletin.com

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