Annual HS Benefit That Partners With Local Musicians
Hello, my name is MaKellee Kathryn Doty-Robinson, but to make it way easier, everyone just calls me Kellee.
I have suffered from HS since I can remember, but was finally diagnosed in March of 2013, the day before my 13th birthday. My birthday present was a giant excision of HS out of the center of my chest, all the way down to the sternum bone, along with a wound vac. At only 13, on my birthday, I was living with a name for what was on my body, Hidradenitis Suppurativa in Stage 3 on my chest.
I am now only 19, and since then, I have had 12 complete excisions all over my body since most of my body is severe stage 3 now, another surgery to have my belly button removed, and a chest reconstruction. And as you all know, there’s many other warriors out there that have this even 10 times worse than that.
I was 17, sitting in the parking lot of The Christmas Tree Shoppe in Mishawaka, Indiana. It was the beginning of summer, and I had just had my 7th or 8th surgery. If I can be very blunt and open as well, my dad had just passed away as well due to suicide. So, obviously I was completely miserable and at a severe low that most of us HS patients end up feeling at some point. So I had an idea.
I have always been extremely involved with the local music community around here. I’ve helped book shows, find bands shows to get on, and promote. So why not combine my two worlds into one? Boom: an HS Benefit Show!
So I contacted the wonderful and inspirational Penny White about my idea and asked if she would like half of the proceeds for her HS Relief Fund to help patients. Since then, we’ve partnered on a lot of stuff and she has become a dear, dear friend of mine. The other half of the proceeds would end up going to the HS Foundation.
The first had 8 bands, and it went on from 3pm until about 11pm, at Smith’s Downtown in Mishawaka, IN. Awards were given to medical professionals who have done an amazing help for patients and for awareness, raffles were done, information booklets were available on HS, and some bands and the venue donated all of their sales. I expected this to be small, but it completely blew up. I made triple my goal bringing in well over $700, bands got offered weekend show deals and recording deals, and SO MANY people came in and out all day, and donated extra. I expected 20 people. I got a cramped, full house instead. That is when I knew this needed to be done every year.
Since then, bands have returned each year to play, and have helped every step of the way with not only putting the event together, but spreading awareness. Last year, we started giving awards out to local artists and individuals who have helped spread awareness and put the event together instead of just medical professionals, since it has only gotten bigger and bigger. Seeing how my community can come together and be so supportive of this horrible illness has done nothing but bring me joy.
This year is a bit different, and I’m SUPER excited about it. We are having the event at a new venue with two levels, called The Well in Mishawaka, IN. The first level is a beautiful little coffee shop, and the lower level is an area with merch tables, couches, and of course, the ground stage area. Thanks to the wonderful people at The Well, they are giving me the area for free and running the sound for free. They are very well known in the area for doing fundraiser shows like this, so I knew it was the perfect place to move the event too.
The next change is a wonderful, sweet caring fellow HS patient and friend of mine will be making HS Awareness bracelets by hand, and all the money made off of them will be donated. Also, a few lovely bands, including my own, like every other year, have come forward and said they will be donating their merch sales to the cause as well.
Also, this year, I am in a two man band with my wonderful fiancé. We will be playing this show along with the other wonderful bands. With his and my family’s help, this show wouldn’t be what it is.
And of course, the change I am most excited for, is to be partnering with Hope for HS. Half of the proceeds will now be going to them for their wonderful cause. They have been such a supportive, huge help and are offering info pamphlets at the show.
Some things are staying the same, though. There will still be awards, raffles, and a mandatory $5 cover charge.
If you are interested in coming, the event is, as mentioned, at The Well in Mishawaka, IN. It will be happening on June 22nd this year, starting at 6pm.
Just a reminder, this event is about YOU, fellow HS Warriors. This is an environment for you to come have fun, drink some coffee, and meet other patients while also partaking in spreading awareness of our pain. While the people who just come to come are a huge help in spreading awareness in the community, you, the patient, are the most important part in standing up and telling your story. You matter. You, and your fellow warriors, are the ones making this change in awareness.
Before I stop going on and on, I would just like to state a reminder. We are in this together. You are not alone. There IS Hope for HS. There are people who want to help, love, and support you. I do this event for you, fellow HS Warriors, because awareness is what we need. We all stand strong and hopefully through spreading awareness like this, your testimonies and advocacy, and fighting this war together will give us real relief one day, and maybe even a cure.