Like many bands just starting out, North High School student Sergio Sigala wanted his group to play more. But he didn’t want to do just any show.
Sigala wanted those shows to have meaning. So in 2016 he looked for a local charity to help support, and came across Memorial High School student Katie Rhoten’s charity Katharine’s Wish.
With the help of his parents and Rhoten’s mom, they held the first benefit show featuring several bands including his own last year and saw tremendous success.
“I thought it was a really cool idea to have a local band starting a show for another student who has a charity,” Sigala, now a senior, said. “It was students helping students, North and Memorial (high schools) working together. This year I wanted to do it again because it was very successful, and the numbers were surprising considering we had never done this before.”
They raised approximately $1,500 to donate to the Katharine’s Wish donor-advised fund, which is through the Eau Claire Community Foundation. Sigala estimated anywhere from 250 to 300 people attended.
Now he’s hoping for even more at the Second Annual Katharine’s Wish Benefit Show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Plus.
This year’s lineup features Sigala’s band, The Saulteurs, Orenda Fugue and headliner The Broken Eights with openers Yellow Dog Club, Nhara Lartey and Emylee Strubel.
As the show gets closer, Sigala said he “can’t help but get a little giddy.”
Of course, Sigala is excited to perform, but he’s also excited to share the stage with his band mates and know what they are doing has meaning.
The Saulteurs’ bassist, Dameian Russell, agreed, adding it is a lot bigger than just the show.
“We’re putting everything into it because that charity is putting everything into their cause,” said Russell, who was not part of last year’s show. “When I think about it, it gets my heart warm a little bit. Not just because we’re performing but because we’re performing for such an honorable cause.”
Russell also hopes it gets people talking more about the charity, or maybe learning about other local charities they can help, whether they are from Eau Claire or not.
On a bigger scale, Sigala hopes it helps other students see the difference they can make in people’s lives, just by setting out with a specific goal in mind.
“It’d be great to inspire other people who, maybe like us are in a band, to make the things you do not just a show,” Sigala said. “It’s a lot more than that, and everything you do can have meaning.”
Funds donated to Katharine’s Wish go directly toward grants to hospitals both in Eau Claire and around the country to buy new toys and books for pediatric patients, Rhoten’s mom, Kristin Everett, said. Since 2008 they have raised over $50,000 in grants to hospitals in all 50 states and donated over 25,000 toys and books to hospitals in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“For $5, you’ll get some really great entertainment that’s going toward a great cause and could potentially help thousands more kids,” Everett said of the benefit show.
When Sigalla reached out to Everett and her daughter about doing the event again, Everett said she was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“Its first year was a tremendous success, we were just blown away,” Everett said. “It’s inspiring to see high school students in our community become invested and wanting to help others and give back. It gives me a lot of hope for our future. Between the students and the bands, there are so many good kids out there.”
Contact: 715-833-9214, firstname.lastname@example.org, @KatherineMacek on Twitter