Tribuu Music Festival by Sons of Charity held for children battling cancer

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“Sons of Charity” (SOC) calls them “the warrior kids,” and Sam Diego, the founder and president of this local non-profit organization, wears silly costumes to impress and inspire them, whether they are recovering on a hospital bed or during a music festival like the one organized last weekend at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon. Tribuu Music Festival had its first annual edition as a fundraising event merging the idea of supporting tribute bands and singers with the main goal of raising funds to help out children battling cancer and their families.

“Sons of Charity” (SOC) calls them “the warrior kids,” and Sam Diego, the founder and president of this local non-profit organization, wears silly costumes to impress and inspire them, whether they are recovering on a hospital bed or during a music festival like the one organized last weekend at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon. Tribuu Music Festival had its first annual edition as a fundraising event merging the idea of supporting tribute bands and singers with the main goal of raising funds to help out children battling cancer and their families.

Cail Carmichael is 18 years old and is here in his wheelchair, wearing a surgical mask for protection, considering the health risk of being around such big crowd. A fine young man, with a sweet demeanor and a gentle voice, generously posing for pictures with guests and confessing he made friends with two other warrior teens and went to prom with one, Sophia. “I am very grateful to Sam and the Sons of Charity volunteers and donors for helping me and my family. This is a great organization and I support it every chance I get by coming to their events, so others would be able to receive help in the future.” Cail’s mom, Kris Carmichael, says “Cail was in Intensive Care when Sam Diego was performing one of his pirate gig in the hospital at the same time and Cail said, look, mom, it’s Sam! We knew him from before, but he didn’t know about Cail and taught us to apply for assistance and we were approved.” Barely holding back tears, she adds,” they helped us with bills and Sam came to be with Cail during a surgical intervention.”

Diego is well known in town for dressing up like a pirate and performing for children battling cancer in hospitals. “That’s how I found out about these families and how desperate they are. Our government doesn’t provide any assistance and there aren’t many organizations out there to help them make a mortgage payment when one of the parents stopped working to take care of their kid or don’t have gas in the car to make it to the hospital for treatment.” Diego says his organization, Sons of Charity, is the only local non profit focused on helping families directly, by covering major or small bills for 1 to 3 months or longer, depending on the situation. “The government reserves three point eight cents for each dollar for cancer research for children. That’s a crime,” he says. William Wall, an awarded local filmmaker seconds that, adding, “that especially now, when our government is trying hard to strip millions of Americans of basic healthcare, it’s crucial we come together and help these innocent children.” Right now, Diego’s grassroots charity is assisting 5 families and raised almost $2,000 from the presale of this show, hoping to make more from donations and sponsors. That is not enough, everybody agrees, considering how many local families are desperate for help. Diego mentions a recent partnership with Grossmont Health District, which may lead to grants in the near future. Pierre Charmasson, SOC treasurer, points out the progress since four years ago when they started out and had one fundraising event until now when with the help of 20 core volunteers and 75 others on call, they are able to have at least half a dozen a year, excluding partnerships with other charities. “It’s still not enough, we need more volunteers, more donors, more people involved. “

On board with SOC is also Bill Wells, the Mayor of El Cajon, proudly wearing the Sons of Charity t-shirt, the black short sleeve version, and getting ready to…yes, perform with one of the tribute bands, “Santana pa Ti,” having a reserved sit at the keyboard for the “Evil Ways” song.  “I am here for the free t-shirt and the laminated lanyard,” he jokes, shy to be caught in action while carrying around the band’s musical equipment. “I like this charity because it’s local and nothing tugs at my heart like a sick child.” Wells has three kids on his own and four grandchildren and says that plays a big part of his commitment to support SOC.

Some of the band members are already here, unloading and setting up the stage, while the SOC volunteers are trying to sell one more t-shirt, collect one more donation, give out one more flyer about the upcoming fundraising event. Pamela Reiter and James Mosier are a couple and fully committed to remain core volunteers for SOC. “This is 100% non-profit, which means 100% of the donations go directly to the families and everybody in our organization is a volunteer, nobody gets paid.”

They’ve been with Diego since the beginning and worked together before that on other projects. It seems that everybody involved forms a close tight family of people truly devoted, passionate, with hearts of gold. “A good pirate captain needs a good pirate crew,” Diego throws in the conversation before wondering off to whisper to some friends about a car crash that kept him from making it on time and, of course, Captain Diego actually saved two kids involved in the accident. “Do not publish that, I won’t admit it.”

A bagpiper makes a grand entrance, Irish traditional kilt in order. Robert Burns performed professionally for the past 23 years and like everybody else on the stage at this event, he cannot say “no” to SOC and especially not to Diego. The concert started and the people are up and dancing, the excitement high. Foo Fighters Tribute Faux Fighters are heating up the stage, not before stopping by the volunteers’ booth to share how important it is for them to be here. David Jensen, drummer, and Ricky Sterling, lead singer, agree, “We, as artists, have to give back to the community who gives us so much.” Master of the ceremonies, Charmasson, announces the grand prizes won at the auction, entertaining the audience with his comedic skills. “I have a pair of prehistoric glasses somebody left behind. No, they are not Sam’s, he only leaves his pirate stuff behind.” During the break, people gather around the warm meals provided by Rita’s Catering and cold drinks from California Fruit Wines. Along with the Water Conservation Garden, several other sponsors stepped in: Hooley’s Public House, Helix Brewing, the National Press Photographer Association and Wawanesa Insurance.

The last performance of the night belongs to No Duh, introduced as “officially the world’s greatest Tribute to No Doubt and Gwen Stefani.” Time for Sam Diego to slide into his banana costume and mingle with the dancing crowd, transmitting live from the event, so head over to his Facebook page to see the proof.  “There are no walls here tonight, he cheers. “I don’t care if you are a biker, a car enthusiast or a community member; we are here as one for our warrior kids. We cannot say no to our kids.” 

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