The former lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Grank Funk Railrod will perform at a Delaware event Saturday, Sept. 30, designed to raise money to help stop suicide among soldiers.
“VetFest is a gathering of Veterans and people who love and lift our sisters and brothers who are currently serving and those who have served our country militarily,” Farner said via email. “Because it is a genuine concern coming from genuine hearts, the positive effect is not only what we see but the intended therapeutic help we can’t see that reaches a soldier’s heart.
“Joining with people who are bringing our Veterans to the forefront and unlocking the mystery of Veterans Suicide is certainly a positive endeavor. Many of us share the positive ambition it takes to make a difference and the key component to our success is witnessed in real, honest love for those who are known as the very best we have. ”
Vet Fest grew out of a high school project. In 2015 Jacob DiSabatino, son of Whitehall co-founder Brian DiSabatino, created the 22in22 initiative after realizing that 22 veterans commit suicide in the U.S. each year.
Then a junior at St. Mark’s High School, Jacob raised money that went to projects that would support mental health for Veterans and members of the military.
That effort bloomed into Vet Fest, which will frun from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and and include races, a parade, lunch, music and booths for military and Veteran groups.
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“Whitehall has always been more than just a town; it’s a community with heart and purpose,” said Brian DiSabitino. “With Vet Fest, we’re not just hosting a concert – we’re amplifying a call to action. Every note played and every voice raised brings us one step closer to a world where our Veterans feel valued, heard and supported every single day. This is our commitment, our tribute and our way of saying thank you.”
The 22in22 program has gone on to gain national recognition, backed by celebrity supporters of the military including actor Gary Sinise and musician Charlie Daniels.
Jacob now is a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.
Vet Fest connections
Vet Fest is meant to connect the military and civilian communities, organizers say.
Last year, the event raised $150,000 for the nonprofit Stop Soldier Suicide. The Durham, North Carolina, group was founded by veterans who wanted to help their fellow Veterans who were struggling.
Admission is free, but donations of $5 or $10 each are recommended.
Vet Fest begins with a 10:15 a.m. parade, national anthem and pep rally.
The annual 5K family run and walk and annual 10K Go Ruck, which includes participants carrying a rucksack or backpack to honor soldiers, takes off at 11 a.m.
Lunch is at noon, with a Veterans and civilian group social. Also at noon, the 287th Army National Guard Rock Band will play before Farner and Club Phred take the stage.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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