Their self-proclaimed heart and soul was recovering in a hospital bed miles away in Colorado. But the members of Low Strung delivered both at a benefit concert Thursday night.
The rock cello group held its performance in honor of member Dan Lewis ’09, who has been unconscious since being hit by a car in July while cycling across the country on the Habitat Bicycle Challenge trip. The concert — performed in the Saybrook College Courtyard — was streamed live via the Saybrook Web site so Lewis’ family and friends around the country could watch it.
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The proceeds, which totalled more than $3000, will go toward Lewis’ accumulating medical expenses.
Students said the concert was an emotional yet exciting tribute to the student Low Strung terms its “most rockin’ member.”
Maria de Leon ’10, a member of Low Strung, said the concert’s importance was not only in its fundraising efforts, but also in its inspiring message.
“The primary purpose of the concert is to show support for Dan and for his family,” she said.
Ten cellists played arrangements of rock songs, opening the concert with Elton John’s “Daniel” and continuing with crowd favorites such as adaptations of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
At one point, Joe Babarsky ‘09, one of the camera operators, held up a cell phone and asked the crowd to say hello to Lewis’ mother, who responded with a “thank you” to the audience.
The concert concluded with a slide show set to a recording of Low Strung playing Aerosmith’s “Dream On” — on the track, Lewis plays the opening solo. Students watched silently as a screen showed pictures and videos of Lewis smiling, posing, laughing and, of course, playing the cello.
Students who attended the concert said they thought it was a good way to honor Lewis.
“I think it’s a really touching thing to be here and to recognize Dan,” said fellow Saybrook student Eddie Quinones ‘08, who became close to Lewis last year. “It’s nice that in the midst of our college lives we’re taking time to think about him.”
Even Yalies who do not know Lewis personally, like Danny Townsend ’10, said they came for both the music and the cause.
“I’ve never heard [Low Strung], but the concert for Dan Lewis seemed like a great reason to see them for the first time,” he said.
On Monday, Lewis was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Colorado Hospital to another Denver facility, Kindred Hospital, described on his online CarePage — a Web site set up so friends and family can remain updated on his progress — as a long-term care facility emphasizing movement toward “functional outcomes in the context of medical care.” An Oct. 4 CarePages post by Lewis’ family says, “He continues to improve in terms of his basic medical condition.” The post also said Lewis is receiving neurostimulants and physical therapy and has shown improved eye movement and facial expression.
As a result of Lewis’ accident — which was the third in three years for the bicycle challenge — trip leaders decided last month to discontinue the charity ride. The trip has drawn hundreds of students nationwide since it began at Yale in 1993.