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Band Member Hosts Fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

By Joyce Rudolph
The Burbank Leader
June 17, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.

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Lisa and Joe Wilke flank the first recipients of Jordan Middle School’s Christopher Wilke Service Award, Kalea Neiviller, Evan Troncoso, Connor McDonald, Jerzy Maginnis and Morgan Mersola. (Courtesy of Stacy Cashman / June 17, 2014)“I was really happy with it. This was miles away from a conventional Eagle Scout project,” he said. “I’m not a conventional person.”

Nothing less than extraordinary is the support this community continues to give the family of Christopher Wilke, the 12-year-old Boy Scout who passed away in March after a battle with bile duct cancer.

The positive outlook of the family inspired David Marinelli, 17, to come up with an original idea for his Eagle Scout project. A member of Christopher’s Boy Scout Troop 209, David considered Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Christopher had received treatment.

Since his parents both worked during the day, the Burbank High School senior took the train down to children’s hospital and spoke to a representative in the volunteer department. 

From that meeting, David decided to raise funds to purchase “crib soothers” for premature babies at children’s hospital.

“These babies have to live in incubators for long periods of time and do not get to experience all of the learning, growth and joy that other babies do,” David said. “My mission is to buy several of a kind of toy called a ‘crib soother’ that projects beautiful images of forests and oceans onto the area above the incubator and plays classical music for the babies.”

David organized a benefit concert featuring his band, the Slightlys, along with three other bands, at the Burbank First United Methodist Church at the end of last month. More than 200 people attended and pledges are still coming it. 

At last count, the total was at $4,000, said David’s parents, Joe and Jean Marinelli.

David was very satisfied with the fundraiser and plans to do another concert in September, he said.

“I was really happy with it. This was miles away from a conventional Eagle Scout project,” he said. “I’m not a conventional person.”

Troop 209 members as well as his fellow Key Club members at Burbank High volunteered their time to put on the concert, David said.

Attending the event were Christopher Wilke’s parents, Joe and Lisa Wilke, and grandparents, Joe and Monica Wilke.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, David is going to be contacting Baby Einstein, a line of toys for infants and preschoolers, to see if he can get a special price for the toys, Jean Marinelli said.

Named after Slightly, one of the lost boys in the Peter Pan story, the band is made up of Finneas O’Connell, 16, of Highland Park, who is lead singer and songwriter; Darius Dudley II, 18, of South Pasadena, electric bass and violin; David Marinelli of Burbank, on percussion; and Robby Fitzpatrick, 17, of Burbank, who plays guitar.

The band won the semifinal competition in Rusty’s Surf Ranch’s Emerging Artist Competition Thursday night on the Santa Monica Pier, and will return for the finals in July.

Earlier in May, Jordan Middle School presented the first Christopher Wilke Service Awards. The Jordan staff created this annual award given to seventh-graders based on service, compassion and academic achievement. 

There were five Jordan students who stayed by Chris’ side in the hospital, visited with him often and treated him like the friend he was, despite the difficulties he endured from his illness.

Recipients were Kalea Neiviller, Evan Troncoso, Connor McDonald, Jerzy Margin and Morgan Mersola.

I never met Christopher, but he must have been a very special person to have inspired so many people.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.

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