A newsmaker you should know: Annual backyard concert raises more than $60,000
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It is ironic that Cindy Bandula-Yates admittedly can't carry a tune.
She loves music -- loves to listen to it, loves to attend concerts, loves to attend music festivals -- so much that eight years ago, when she was brainstorming ideas for a fundraiser, she organized a music festival of her own.
"My husband's best friend, Mike Fatigante, was a fellow teacher and when he died, Ted wanted to do something for his wife and children," Mrs. Bandula-Yates said about her husband, now a retired teacher from the Moon Area School District. His friend had suffered from pancreatic cancer and died in 2004. The couple wanted to help his wife, Linda, and their three children, but were at a loss for ideas.
Mrs. Bandula-Yates had learned about "house concerts," in which musicians perform for smaller audiences while they are in town for a larger concert.
She learned of the concept from Cindy Bullens, a female performer who opened for Dan Fogelberg, and who had lost her own daughter to cancer.
"The idea just kind of all came together," said Mrs. Bandula-Yates, adding that the singer -- whom she met at a Fogelberg concert -- agreed to perform at a concert to raise money for a family affected by cancer.
"Since her name was Cindy, we came up with 'Cindystock,' " Mrs. Bandula-Yates said.
The Yates family has 3 acres in Franklin Park, so they stage the concert in their backyard.
"It was supposed to be a one-time thing," Mrs. Bandula-Yates said.
Eight years later, the annual concert is still going strong and Mrs. Bandula-Yates has raised more than $60,000.
For the first few years, she raised money for families affected by cancer, but now raises money for organizations that assist families and provide health-screening services.
"Last year was our best year -- we raised over $19,000," she said.
Mrs. Bandula-Yates formed a nonprofit called Yates Fund for Cancer Hope and not only raises money for cancer projects, but awareness and provides information on services and screenings.
"We try to focus on helping people without insurance," she said.
Planning and preparing for the concert in her spare time pretty much takes all year, Mrs. Bandula-Yates said. Although she works full time, including travel, as a business consultant for PPG, she still manages to find time to organize Cindystock, held every August.
Her husband, daughters and friends also help a great deal.
"I couldn't do it without them," she said.
Mrs. Bandula-Yates uses a spreadsheet to organize things and starts looking for performers early in the year.
"Since I can't pay travel expenses, we look to see who is performing in the area and see if they can play for us while they are here," she said.
They usually have four or five artists, including her daughter, Maura, who has performed every year.
The event also features a full meal, snacks and beverages and presentations by the organizations Cindystock supports, including the Cancer Caring Center, Satchels of Caring, Adiago Health, and the Obediah Cole Foundation.
"The Obediah Cole Foundation is named after Robin Cole's father who died from prostate cancer and Robin will be coming this year again," she said.
The former Steelers player is a long-time supporter of Cindystock.
While the event takes months to plan and hours and hours to set up, the Yates family wouldn't have it any other way.
"They say, 'Oh, it's mom's thing,' and 'When it's over, she will be normal again,' but they love it," she said.
According to Mrs. Bandula-Yates, many use the event as a little reunion.
"We have families and friends who make this an annual event," she said, "It really is a lot of fun and of course, it is for a great cause."
Mrs. Bandula-Yates already is looking forward to 2013, the "Decade of Cindystock" event.
"I don't know what I will be doing, but it will have to be something big," she said.
"Cindystock 9" will be held Aug. 18. Tickets are $35 and include food and entertainment. Information: www.cindystock.org.
Correction/Clarification: (Published August 9, 2012) The last name of newsmaker Cindy Bandula-Yates was misspelled in an article last week.
First Published August 2, 2012 4:51 am