Troy hosts 'Help for Haiti' relief concert

Micah Grimes understands what it’s like to be in a disaster.

Grimes, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at Troy, was growing up in Florida when Hurricane Katrina hit. And while Florida wasn’t the epicenter of the damage, his city of Fort Meade lost power for almost three weeks, and he and his family relied on the kindness of others to help them through that time.

So when Grimes started watching images of the earthquake destruction in Haiti a couple of weeks ago, he felt the drive to do something to help.

“You never forget something like that,” Grimes said. “So when my opportunity came to help, I took it.”

But he wasn’t sure what he could do. That was before local musician Joshua Johnson contacted him via e-mail on Jan. 15 and discussed the possibility of doing a benefit concert. Johnson initially wanted Grimes to makes some DVDs for the event, which was just going to be a few hundred people. But as the two started talking and brainstorming, Grimes turned into more of a co-creator and they developed the “Help for Haiti” relief concert.

”I was really passionate about it because I wish I could be down there doing something right now,” Grimes said. “I understood that there was a common want for the students around here to do something, but like me, they really didn’t have a medium to do it. When he brought this idea, it was perfect and it’s really taken off since then.”

The concert, which will take place Friday on the Tailgate Terrance on the Troy campus, will include 11 acts over the course of a six-hour concert. Johnson and Grimes, in conjunction with the student government association on campus, which is funding the effort, are asking for a $5 donation to get in, with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders, a group Grimes heard about while watching CNN.

Grimes has gathered 11 other people to help him with the managerial aspects of the concert, and 50 others have asked to volunteer for the event, assisting in setup and breakdown. A local entertainment group is helping with lights and audio at a discounted rate. Help for Haiti also has received donations from the Troy Foundation, and the Greek system on campus has pledged enough money for its houses to gain entrance to the concert and a little extra to help.

Grimes, a 21-year-old broadcast journalism major, also has received support from his Troy teammates. While none are volunteering, almost all plan to attend. And a band made entirely of Troy football players has agreed to play. The Nasty Nate Experience includes defensive back Sam Sellers as the lead singer, running back Nate Nolin and linebacker Bear Woods on guitar, linebacker Jacoby Thomas on the drums and linebacker Donnell Golden playing the keyboard.

Grimes said he originally hoped to raise about $5,000, but after creating a Facebook page and watching the effort really take off on the Troy campus and around the community, he’s hoping for twice that amount.

“It’s hard to predict,” Grimes said. “It’s not even been two weeks that we’ve been planning. That was the concern by some people, that it was so quick. But just knowing the mental status of the human being, it’s sad, and I’m guilty of it myself, is that you start to forget about it after awhile. When the news organizations pull out then it goes away from the American conscious. But these people are still going to be down there and they’re still going to be suffering. And these doctors are going to be down there with them years to come from now.”

The only thing threatening Help for Haiti is the weather. It’s supposed to rain on Friday, which Grimes said will push the concert into Recreation Center Gym, which won’t be able to hold as many people. Still, Grimes is hopeful that the coming and going of supporters throughout the six-hour concert will be enough to generate significant donations.

“This has taken me to a different level in my life just having this experience,” Grimes said. “I’ll never be the same after this experience, just organizing people and being a leader. But also, I believe in my university a lot more now because of how this has come together and the massive support that poured from the students and the university. It’s been a great thing and hopefully it will go off with a bang.”