On Saturday, March 20, 2010 members of Phi Sigma Pi at West Chester University held a Benefit Concert which raised over $1,200 to be donated to charities on behalf of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. The Foundation is matching all funds raised at the concert. Amber Staska, President of Phi Sigma Pi and Casey’s best friend, took a leadership role in organizing the event, which wrapped up a week-long awareness campaign about pedestrian safety.
The ballroom at Sykes Student Union was filled with the sounds of music by The Hint, as well as Chris D’Esposito and DNA. A slideshow of photographs of Casey played in the background. Students paid a $5 donation at the door, and were able to purchase raffle tickets; “Casey” bracelets; bumper magnets that promote pedestrian safety; and t-shirts that read “I brake for pedestrians… brake for me.”
The week leading up to the concert, members of Phi Sigma Pi educated other students and members of the community about the dangers of distracted driving. By standing outside of the Sykes Student Union at the crosswalks, with posters and signs, they were able to encourage drivers to pay closer attention to the road, as well as to make sure pedestrians make use of both the crosswalks and the sidewalks. Students signed pink hands to signify their commitment to safe driving by “raising a hand for awareness”. Strings of dozens of these pink hands adorned the wall of the concert hall Saturday night.
How were the students able to connect with Casey Feldman, who attended Fordham University? As pointed out by Casey’s mother, Dianne Anderson in addressing the students, both Casey and her brother, Brett have numerous friends, in addition to Amber, who attend West Chester University. “The accident happened on an otherwise normal summer afternoon, and it could just as easily have been any one of you whose life was cut short by a momentary distraction on the part of a driver.”
Amber said that she hoped people would be inspired to make a difference after hearing about Casey. “We wanted to give back to the community, get our name out there and celebrate Casey’s life,” she said. “We want people to know Casey’s story and that those types of accidents are preventable.”
The efforts of the fraternity align with one of Casey’s passions: a commitment to service. The proceeds from the concert and sales will be equally divided among the Sarnelli House, which helps the needy and poor of Philadelphia, Main Line Animal Rescue, which finds loving homes for abandoned animals, and The Partnership for Safe Driving, which is dedicated to educating Americans about all forms of dangerous driving.
As a surprise to all, Amber Staska took the microphone and sang four songs dedicated to Casey, while accompanied by her father Chip, sister, Jackie, and WCU friend, Zach. During the benefit, a video created by Nathan Kutz and Phi Sigma Pi was played as a tribute to Casey. Students from West Chester were asked what they will do “because of Casey,” and explained how they were inspired by her story. The video can be viewed here.
To see photos and other videos from the concert and weeklong safety campaign, visit the Photo Gallery of the Casey Feldman Memories site . Read the article in The Quad, the student newspaper of West Chester University,
Phi Sigma Pi Raises Awareness for Safe Driving. Read the article in Seventeen Magazine (Sept. 2010, p. 221) about the event. Please also visit the Casey Feldman Network site, consider joining and share with us what you are doing, “because of Casey”.