UCP of Berkshire County to carry on fundraiser with rock band Kansas

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PITTSFIELD — An expected near sell-out crowd will rock on with Kansas this Saturday as the iconic '70s band ushers in a new, major fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County.

UCP officials say they have sold more than 500 of the 744 tickets for the "Life without Limits" concert at the Colonial Theatre, anticipating plenty of last-minute sales leading up to the benefit performance at 7:30 p.m.

"The response has been tremendous," said UCP Executive Director Salvatore Garozzo. "We have some friends of UCP purchasing tickets on behalf of those with disabilities so they can go."

"Anywhere Sal and I go, people bring up the concert without us bringing it up," saod Kristen Baker, UCP's director of marketing and development.

UCP announced in December it had booked Kansas, known for top hits, "Dust in the Wind" and "Carry on Wayward Son," for a main event replacing the agency's long-running annual telethon, which bowed out in January 2015 after 52 years.

As was the telethon's goal, the concert will raise awareness — and tens of thousands of dollars — for UCP's mission to assist 2,300 families of county residents with a variety of disabilities as well as cerebral palsy.

Gazorro recently had a chance to speak with a founding member of Kansas, Richie Williams, about the several benefit concerts they perform each year.

"He said their music is all about inspiring people [and] he's glad to help our cause," Gazorro said.

UCP officials hope the concert outdoes the last telethon, having set a goal of $40,000 that includes associated fundraising leading up to the show, as well as proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorship. The final telethon 14 months ago tallied $36,658, topping the goal of $35,000.

The Colonial Theatre gig is one of several changes in UCP's fundraising strategy in the past year. The phone-a-thon solicitation that preceded the telethon has moved to mid-April and in October, the agency will stage what they are calling a unique all-day fundraiser in downtown Pittsfield. UCP officials are still hashing out the details of that event.

"We're trying to promote our mission year-round," Baker said. "We're trying to stay on everybody's radar all 12 months."

The telethon — for many years held a week before the Super Bowl — consistently netted UCP an average of $30,000 for the past decade, but it took staff and volunteers four months to plan. UCP officials hope the benefit concert will produce the same financial success — without being as time consuming.

After expenses, the money raised locally stays in Berkshire County to support 18 UCP programs and services offered through the agency's Pittsfield and North Adams offices. The telethon was one of 20 private and public funding sources for the UCP's $3.7 million operating budget.

Founded in 1961, UCP of Berkshire County held its inaugural telethon, which evolved into a major local television event, in 1963.

The four-hour telecast, produced and aired by Pittsfield Community Television, featured local celebrities and talent. It had become Pittsfield's most elaborate live community television production next to the city's Fourth of July Parade, according to PCTV officials.

What: Kansas in concert, a "Life without Limits" benefit for United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 26

Where: The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield

Cost: $45, $80 and $105. VIP tickets at $175 which includes a pre-show cocktail hour and VIP seating for the concert. For $275, VIP ticket-holders also get to meet the band.

Tickets: 413-997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org; in person at The Colonial Theatre box office

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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