Tuesday, June 27, 2017 This Week's Paper

Area bands hold fundraiser for Connie Meredith

// Paraplegic single mother faces mounting medical expenses

A local woman in dire need of help is getting just that from a group of classmates she attended school with more than 50 years ago.

They and some local bands are holding a live music and silent auction fundraiser Oct. 2 at The Swiss. The public is invited to come out and hear some great music, bid on some really cool items and help someone who has faced one tragedy after another.

This past August, a multi-year reunion was held for the Meeker Junior High School class of 1960-63. Billy Barner, drummer for top Tacoma band Blues Redemption, was there and learned that his childhood friend Connie Meredith was having some very bad times.

“Connie and I grew up together and we were good friends,” he said, but they lost track of each other over the years and have not been in contact for a long time. Barner heard Meredith’s story from a group of her friends. “When they told me that her husband had passed away and that she needs to have multiple surgeries, they asked me if I could help organize a fundraiser benefit for her. Of course I said yes.”

Here is Meredith’s story as written by her longtime friend Caroline Hathaway: “In 1981 Connie Meredith was a single working mom raising two wonderful kids, Darin, 13, and Darla, 11. On a fateful Labor Day weekend, Connie went on a motorcycle run to Mt. Vernon. The fun turned to tragedy when an accident caused the bike in back of Connie to

slam into her. She received life altering injuries that left her a paraplegic.

“Connie spent eight months in the hospital fighting for her life. Knowing her children needed her gave her the strength to continue her fight. She had to re-learn and learn new skills to go home, raise her family and live independently. This she did. Ten years later came the next life altering

experience. Connie met Bill Bowen. It was love at first sight.

“Bill sent her roses. She said, "I'm in a wheelchair,” and Bill sent her roses. She said, "I can never run on the beach with you," and he sent her roses and then... they wed. They were married for 21 years. Through all the challenges, they cultivated a love-filled marriage filled with laughter and smiles.

“In 2009, infection issues required Connie to remain flat on her back in bed, only leaving her bed for surgeries or hospital treatments. As if this wasn't enough to deal with, in June of 2010 Bill was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He would take Connie to her treatment and then go get

his. Bill passed away much earlier than expected on April 28, 2011.

“Connie was undergoing surgery at the time of his death. Her heart is broken but she is trying so hard to get back and be that independent person once again. We know she can and will, but she needs our help. She needs your help.”

The Oct. 2 fundraising event will feature three top-notch Tacoma bands – Blues Redemption with Maia Santell, Al Earick Band and The Jupiter Order. Renowned Seattle guitarist Mike Reilly, of The Mike Reilly Band, will also be there playing his unique brand of good time party blues/rock.

On the auction block will be an impressive array of items such as: a two-day vacation to Hyack Cabin in Snoqualmie Pass; gold packages that include rounds at Northshore Golf Course and Country Club; gift certificates to restaurants, boutiques and gift shops; jewelry; home décor items; drum lessons from Billy Barner; an Ichiro bobble head; backpacks for small dogs; an Italian foods basket; and much more.

A $10 donation (or give what you can) will be requested at the door, which opens at 3 p.m. The Swiss is located at 1904 Jefferson Ave.

A raffle will also be held, featuring band promotional materials like CDs and T-shirts. And, there will be a homemade baked-goods auction with cakes, pies, cookies and brownies to bid on.