Londoners looking for a reason to rock can set an alarm for 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, as Helix headlines a virtual show that aims to raise funds for Tristan Roby, a Londoner who was critically injured in a hit-and-run incident on July 21, 2019.
Lead singer Brian Vollmer says the goal is to raise $12,000 to go towards sending Roby to Michigan for stem cell treatments and to support the family.
Roby had been riding his bicycle with a friend along Exeter Road when he was struck from behind by a vehicle near Wonderland Road, three days before his 18th birthday.
He was left in a coma for more than a month, hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury, a fractured leg, bruised lungs, a broken jaw, and several abrasions and contusions — injuries he continues to recover from. He returned home from the hospital in late October 2019.
“(There were) at least three times where we thought that was it and he wasn’t going to make it and he pulled through,” his mother Abby Roby told Global News at the time, adding, “the kid’s determined.”
After learning about Roby’s story, Vollmer decided to find a way to help.
He says he asked friends in the music industry to submit videos, which will be broadcast on Saturday as part of the final fundraising push.
He also recently visited Roby, describing it as a solemn occasion.
“Well, it was hard seeing him in the state he’s in. And his mother, Abby, told me that over the last month he’s been experiencing some, how can I say it, almost like epileptic fits,” he explained.
“She’s basically changed her whole apartment into a great big hospital room. So this money will not only help to send Tristan to Michigan, but it’ll also help his mother, Abby, who is now devoting her entire life to taking care of Tristan.”
He added that already people have been incredibly generous. Roughly $8,000 has been raised so far, with Vollmer saying a single individual donated $2,000 Friday morning.
“I don’t think the person that donated it wants people to know who it is, they want to remain anonymous. But there’s been a lot of other generous people — $100 donations, $25 donations, $50 donations. And we also put up Helix Old School shirts for the month February to sell with all the money going to Tristan as well and they’re all sold out.”
Blu Bones will also be taking part in the fundraiser. The band is back together after 25 years with a new single ‘She’s got a way with love.’
“We did have a little bit of extra free time on our hands this year and thanks to technology and e-mail and the way you can record music now, we were sort of able to get this song finished by sending the songs back and forth to each other through email and everybody would contribute their parts,” lead singer Gord Prior told Global News.
“And and it was a kind of an open book, you know, no pushback from anybody. Do whatever you feel best for for the song.”
Prior says they’re honoured to be part of the fundraiser for Roby.
“It’s just awesome and it’s really inspiring. And hats off to Brian Vollmer from Helix for for doing this and bringing all these bands together,” he said.
“It’s a really great group of musicians and artists, and I’m really looking forward to hearing everybody.”
In addition to Helix and Blu Bones, the lineup also includes Tim Hicks, Danko Jones, Lee Aaron, Todd Kerns, Ray Lyell, Al Harlow, Sarah Smith, After the Lounge, Syre, Bobnoxious, and Mudmen.
The fundraiser begins at 5 p.m. Saturday. Information on how to view the concert and how to donate can be found online.
Meanwhile, the case is working its way through the courts.
London police announced in January 2020 that Jesse Aron Bleck, 27, of London is charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm and two counts of operation of a vehicle while prohibited.
His next court appearance is scheduled for March 22.
— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Andrew Graham.