Music and motorcycles: Two passion projects help raise money for Traumatic Brain Injury research
By Meghan Rodgers, contributing writer
Four years ago, Wood River Valley musician Gilbert “Gibby” Greenway passed away at the age of 41. It sent a shockwave through the west coast music world and beyond. Now the music scene is doing what it does best — coming together to heal and celebrate life through song.
On April 16 — Greenway’s birthday — the Argyros theater in Ketchum, Idaho hosted the 3rd annual “Live Like Gib Fest” to honor his legacy, with performances by alternative country-western band the Pisten Bullys and headliners Rothchild, a group made largely of musicians from other well-known bands, like Avenged Sevenfold and Tenacious D.
Greenway also jammed with Rothchild during his time living in L.A.
Originally in finance, Greenway left the industry and moved to L.A. in pursuit of music. For “Live Like Gib Fest” event co-organizer Luc McCann, this concert was the perfect way to remember everything his friend embodied.
“When Gibby quit his job to play in a band, a lot of people were like ‘What are you doing?’ But he was so talented and humble. ‘Live Like Gib’ is a reminder to go and live life to the fullest and pursue your passion no matter what people say,” said McCann. “Gib used his music and his sense of humor to engage people and bring them together. He had so many friends from different points in his life. And they’re coming together for this cause. I think he would really love that.”
The festival was free, but organizers accepted donations for Cohen Veterans Bioscience (CVB) to help research traumatic brain injury, PTSD and other brain disorders in an effort to better diagnose and care for patients dealing with mental health-related issues.
“We know that Gibby took a fall while building his home in Idaho. Even a minor head injury has the potential to create a situation that becomes a lot to deal with,” said McCann. “This is an opportunity for us to bring awareness of taking care of yourself and your body through music.”
McCann knows first-hand the difficulties of dealing with brain injury.
“I was 19 when I suffered a brain injury. That’s a trying time in life as it is — you’re just figuring out who you are. My head injury led to insomnia, depression, anxiety,” said McCann. “It can be very difficult to be present through all of those symptoms, but music is a very good way to snap someone out of whatever they’re dealing with and make them present in the room. You do have to do the hard work and talk about mental health problems, but you also need a break from all that. Let’s focus on what’s doing well. Let’s focus on music.”
Fellow event organizer JD McDonnell grew up with Greenway in Northern Mississippi and the two remained lifelong friends. McDonnell recognized the impact Greenway was having in the music world and on the people he met in Idaho and wherever he moved.
“His approach to life left an imprint on the musicians who played with him but also really on anybody that ever met him,” said McDonnell. “Our message is that it’s just hard to lose people very young and we need to do more to help those struggling with these invisible wounds. That’s why we chose CVB.”
“CVB is a great beneficiary because that’s how we make this event productive,” said McDonnell. “It’s intended for people to go and have a good time, but it’s the fundraising piece that helps move the cause forward.”
Off Road Racing For A Cure
McDonnell is also continuing fundraising efforts throughout the year. An upcoming off-road race May 1-5 will provide his next opportunity.
The race? The legendary National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 Rally — an annual event first held in 1967 that sees motor vehicle enthusiasts of all skill levels speed across the Baja California peninsula, beginning in Ensenada and finishing in Cabo San Lucas, in a five-day, 1,300-mile sprint.
NORRA has separate classes for bikes, quads, UTV and 4-wheel for both modern and vintage vehicles. McDonnell will race his 1995 Honda XR600R in the Vintage Open Motorcycle class.
McDonnell will use his platform and his participation in the high-profile race to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and mental health.
“My grandfather was a WWII Veteran in the Army, and I saw the lasting effects of his service on him and the ripple effect that his injuries and mental health struggles had on my family for two generations,” said McDonnell.
“I believe we need to do more for those affected by brain injury today, and especially for the tens of thousands of men and women who have come home from the Middle East and are dealing with similar issues. That’s why I’m passionate about raising money for CVB and helping to further brain injury research.”
McDonnell seeks to raise $3,000 through a Facebook fundraiser page he set up.
Too many Veterans have suffered or are currently suffering from the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) — both known to dramatically increase the risk of suicide.
Significantly more (4.28x) active-duty service members and post-9/11 Veterans have died by suicide than in the totality of two full decades of Global War on Terror military operations: 30,177 vs. 7,057 — the equivalent of 22 Veteran and active-duty suicides per day since the war began.
Health care providers are failing to diagnose and treat these conditions in any way that could be considered meaningful steps toward recovery. Currently, PTS and TBI are diagnosed based on symptoms — not biology — and proposed treatments lack reliability and consistency, leading many patients to feel hopeless, unheard and defeated.
It’s an epidemic that needs specialized and expedited attention now.
Cohen Veterans Bioscience is working at the leading edge of research, as the only nonprofit organization with a singular focus on fast-tracking a means by which those suffering can be diagnosed, while also developing personalized treatments and medications, and pushing for mental health legislation with a goal that no one who experiences brain trauma need to suffer for a lifetime.