by David Notto and Jonathan Weaver
A benefit dance for a local man will be held this weekend in West Kittanning.
Billy Henry, a 23-year-old who was injured during a work-related accident in October as an employee with Peoples Natural Gas, was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed below his neck.
Dance Committee Member and Family Friend Lori Yackmack, of North Buffalo Township, said Billy’s parents – Paula and Fred (also of West Kittanning) – are currently in Atlanta, Ga. with Billy at a injury center, and that proceeds from the benefit at the West Kittanning fire hall will benefit the family while they are in Atlanta during their hardship.
“There are many, many costs that are not covered under any kind of insurance,” Yackmack said. “Whatever we can do to lessen their burden is our goal.”
The event includes musical entertainment from five local bands, including: the Free Peanuts Band, a folk / alternative rock band, Ben Valasek and the Growlers, Beneath the Current Band, and also Paul Kostick, an acoustic guitarist who plays classic rock.
Tickets for the benefit are available at 4:30PM this Saturday before doors open at 5PM, as well as at Hiland Pharmacy along Butler Road.
A $25 donation is requested.
Before his accident, Billy was an avid outdoorsman and weight lifter.
There is also a 50/50 raffle and several silent auctions of items that include: Pittsburgh Penguins tickets and Pittsburgh Steelers autographed items – such as photographs, helmets and jerseys – and more donated items. Donated items are also still being accepted.
“It has been incredible the amount of people that have just come out of the woodwork and either donated their time, money or food to cover the whole event,” Yackmack said. “The organizing committee would like to thank all those who provided donations and those who are helping with the event.”
The committee began scheduling for the benefit in November.
“Actually, every Tuesday night we meet at Mel’s at 7PM and come up with ideas and plans of how we’re going to do stuff,” Yackmack said.
Yackmack has also coordinated benefits for other friends.
Food and refreshments will be available.
The event is open to those 21 years old and over.