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Volunteers sought for Guinness World Record attempt in Riverhead

Darren Stakey of Riverhead will attempt to sing and play piano nearly five straight days next month. (Credit: courtesy)

Calling all night owls: Darren Stakey could use a hand. 

As part of his attempt to set a pair of Guinness World Records by singing and playing the piano over five consecutive days, the Riverhead native is seeking volunteers to help fill remaining shifts as independent witnesses.

“A lot of people I was counting on to do stuff like that don’t qualify,” Mr. Stakey said.

To no great surprise, the early morning 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. shift has been one of the toughest to fill.

To set the record, Mr. Stakey, 33, plans to play for 111 hours, 11 minutes and 11 consecutive seconds at the Outerbanks Restaurant at Indian Island Golf & Country Club in Riverhead. The marathon event to raise money and awareness for autism through the Long Island chapter of Autism Speaks starts at 5 a.m. Tuesday and concludes the night of Aug. 15. Mr. Stakey will be playing on a piano donated by Frank & Camille’s, a tri-state area piano company.

Two independent witnesses much watch Mr. Stakey during the entire event. A witness can take on multiple shifts, but not consecutively.

“The nightmare scenario is that somehow I make it and actually do this whole thing and then in the last hour I get disqualified just because there’s no one there to qualify as a witness,” he said. “The 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. block has been the biggest challenge.”

Mr. Stakey plans to have the entire event live-streamed as he belts out more than 1,000 songs.

Serving as a witness requires one of two tasks. One person must time Mr. Stakey to record that a song lasted a minimum of two minutes. And he can’t take more than a 30-second break between songs. The second person must maintain a log of when the songs start and end, the name of the artist and the title of the song.

“It’s not terribly difficult, but it is important,” he said. “If one person doesn’t show up, it’s like a house of cards falls. I’m counting on a lot of people and hoping for the best.”

Mr. Stakey originally planned for a Guinness judge to attend on the final day to certify the record. As the event got closer, however, he opted against bringing in the judge for financial reasons, he said. He would have been responsible for paying for the travel and accommodations for the judge. While Mr. Stakey had the costs covered, he ultimately decided it would have taken too much money away from the charity donation.

“All of that money now is going to go to Autism Speaks,” he said.

The downside of not having a judge present means it will take longer for the record to be officially recognized. Mr. Stakey will have to mail in video of the entire event as well as all the witness logs — something he would have needed to do regardless — and it’ll take at least three business days for Guinness to verify.

“I think I made the right decision by making sure all that money goes straight to autism,” Mr. Stakey said.

It’s been a hectic few weeks for Mr. Stakey leading up to his record attempt. Last week, he took the California State bar exam, which provided a test in endurance in its own right. Midway through the exam, he suffered an allergic reaction to something he had eaten earlier.

He fought through it and finished the exam.

“Hopefully that is a good sign for this thing,” he said.

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