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Jonas Brothers return a favor with benefit concert
After receiving help to get to a gig, the Jersey siblings come to town to play a benefit.
By MOLLY MOORHEAD, Times Staff Writer
Published October 4, 2007
The Jonas Brothers, a music sensation among the Disney Channel crowd, perform in a benefit Friday in Wesley Chapel.
[Special to the Times]
WESLEY CHAPEL - Ashley Butts has met the Jonas Brothers.
She has an autographed poster and CD.
She has seen them in concert five times.
On Friday, the fifth-grader will make it six.
"I think their parents are their real No. 1 fans. I'm like their second No. 1 fan," said Ashley, 10.
The Jonas Brothers - objects of adoration of tweens nationwide - are playing at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High School seating capacity: 900 to raise money to build a special-needs playground at Seven Oaks Elementary.
To put it in perspective, two weeks from now, the brothers are playing St. Louis' Scottrade Center (seating capacity: 22,000) in a double-bill with the even-more-adored Hannah Montana.
"It's a big deal," said Seven Oaks PTA president Amy Jenkins.
This is how the band came to be playing in Wesley Chapel:
Earlier this year, the brothers - Kevin, Joe and Nick - were stranded and had to get to a gig. The owner of an aviation company in Wesley Chapel stepped up, got them airborne and saved the day.
His name is Jeff Butts. He's Ashley's dad. The band wanted to thank him for helping them out, and he suggested the benefit concert, said his wife, Jesslyn.
Seven Oaks Elementary serves about 200 special needs students for disabilities with speech, hearing and language. It's also an autism center with dedicated teachers and classrooms.
"Children with autism tend to run," said Amy Jenkins, the school's PTA president and an audiology assistant. "They need the confines of a fenced-in area so they don't escape."
That's why the school's regular playground is inadequate. The new playground will have auditory and tactile equipment, wheelchair accessibility and that all-important fence around it.
Jenkins hopes Friday's concert will raise a handsome $12,000.
Tickets, ranging from $30 to $50, went first to Seven Oaks families, then to the community at large.
It sold out last week.
April Baughn, president of the Pasco County Council PTA, said she's never heard of an event on this scale locally, with such a high fundraising goal.
At many Pasco elementary schools, she said, the year's main fundraising event such as a cookie sale or silent auction would do well to raise between $4,000 and $8,000.
"It's an amazing thing," Baughn said. "It's going to be a huge moneymaker."