Bands battle each other — and the heat — for gel candle victim Michael Hubbard

07/23/2011 12:42 PM |

JAMES TUTHILL PHOTO | Every band that took the stage Friday night pointed out how hot it was outside.

How much does the Riverhead community care about helping 14-year-old burn victim Michael Hubbard and his family?

The answer could be found in the crowd of about 100 to 120 supporters who braved 100-degree heat and stifling humidity for a Battle of the Bands fundraiser Friday night. The event was organized by the Riverhead High School Key Club.

The Key Club members set up a stage atop second base on the Stotzky Park softball field in Riverhead, a setup that gave the audience the entire outfield on which to kick around beach balls, play football games and enjoy the music.

“It’s really hot up here.” was a phrase uttered into the mic by a member of almost every band that took the stage. That was understandable, as Friday set the record for hottest day so far this year. It was the hottest July 22 on record for some parts of Suffolk County. But the bands valiantly pressed on, with passionate performances played for free — all to help Michael’s family cope with medical bills and other expenses that have been piling up since he and his mom were injured Memorial Day weekend in a gel candle explosion in their backyard.

“My nephew is going to wake up.” said Michael’s uncle, Curtis Johnson, 46, of Riverhead. Michael has been in a medically induced coma at Stony Brook University Medical Center since suffering 3rd-degree burns.

His mother suffered far less-serious burns and has been at his bedside since the accident, which later saw the federal government recall all such gel devices from store shelves.

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“We keep telling Mike he has to wake up for his birthday.” Mr. Johnson continued. “I tell his mother that even if he has issues when he wakes up [from prolonged exposure to the coma-inducing drugs], at least he’s still with us.”

The idea for a Battle of the Bands concert even came from Key Club member Amanda Commins, 16, of Riverhead.

“I had been to a few Battle of the Bands concerts, loved the live music, and it made me think we should organize one to support Mike,” she said.

The Key Club proceeded to contact local bands including Potentially Insane, The Entertainment, Coastline, Bed Bath Napkin, Silver Lining, and the headliner Uh-Oh Stereo to “battle” to benefit Michael’s family. Every band had it’s own distinct style, ranging from folksy to pop and even a taste of metal.

To raise money at the concert, the Key Club charged a fee to get in, sold bracelets, ice cream and set up a refreshment stand. Water was a big seller.

At the end of the three-hour concert, the club had raised just under $1,000 to be presented to Michael’s family at a dinner and fundraiser next Wednesday, July 27, at Calverton Links golf course.

“Everyone has been extremely generous with all of their donations” said Michael’s aunt, Fran Reyer. “All the support for Mike has been awesome.”

To send a donation, make checks payable to Michael Hubbard Fund, ℅ Fran Reyer, 81 Rabbit Run, Riverhead, NY 11901. Or visit RiverheadLocal.com.

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