Tilford Hayes reunion to aid cystic fibrosis

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sometimes it’s life’s darkest moments that lead to our biggest personal triumphs.

Hearing that her granddaughter has a debilitating disease that is likely to greatly shorten her life, a woman chooses to do something about it, raising thousands of dollars each year to fund further research of the disease.

Or a group of young men, still grieving the premature death of two of their bandmates, form a new group in their honor, finding the greatest success of their musical lives while carrying on their friends’ names.

These stories, these victories, are the link between Laury Long Wallace and Jackie Gibson — that, and a shared background as South Putnam graduates from the 1980s.

Those stories will be linked again this Sunday when Tilford Hayes, a band featuring Gibson, Dave Stemler, Jay Carpenter and Shawn Gaston, plays a reunion show at the Greencastle Moose Lodge.

All proceeds from the show will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Cycle for Life in the name of Wallace’s 2018 ride, which will take place in August.

This is the first fundraiser Wallace has done in her years of taking part in Cycle for Life, having previously just raised money through the ride itself. But now that she and Gibson work together at an Avon hospice facility, the fit was natural.

“God sent me Jackie. He’s a go-getter,” Wallace said. “And the Moose has so graciously taken on this cause.”

For Gibson and his bandmates, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Their heyday was back in the ‘90s, but they still get together for reunion shows, and this seemed like a great reason to get back together.

“I said, ‘You know what? Why don’t we just put this in with our reunion show this year,” Gibson said.

The other three were on board, so now the Moose is booked for a 4-8 p.m. show on Sunday, March 25. Tickets are $5 and are available at the Moose or by calling Gibson at 317-626-0821.

“We’re hoping to have close to 300 people for this show,” Gibson said. “Hopefully we can make money for this cause.”

Wallace knows that every little bit helps. In the time she’s had an active role in fundraising, great advances have been made, but life expectancies are still short.

For someone like Kami, Wallace’s granddaughter, things can be even tougher. While life expectancy for the 30,000 cystic fibrosis patients in the United States only runs into the 30s or 40s, Kami has a mutation that only .2 percent of those patients have.

That can mean an even bleaker prognosis.

“My granddaughter’s 15 and it occurred to me that she may have lived half her life,” Wallace said.

And that’s why she rides each year — 65 miles on the day of the ride — to give Kami and her fellow patients more tomorrows.

Kami has had a rough last year. She’s mentally and physically seems fine, though smaller than normal, but a cold that might have the average person down for a day or two can land her in ICU for months on end. She’s even had to stop attending school in the last year.

“That’s pretty traumatic for a 15-year-old,” Wallace said.

There are also the extreme costs associated with CF treatment — medications that are more than $20,000 a month, a $25,000 “giggle vest” that helps to clear the mucus that her ailing body can’t move.

The CF Foundation helps with such things when families cannot.

“I don’t know what we would have done without the foundation,” Wallace said.

“All the money that’s brought in at the concert will go to the Moose,” Gibson said. “The Moose will turn around and write a check, care of Laury, to the CF Foundation.”

It’s a nice legacy for Rob Tilford and Darin Hayes, a quarter century after their deaths. Now the band that bears their names and brought their friends some of their greatest success is also making a difference.

The band released a CD in 1994, having never played together in public.

“At our first show, we actually had CDs and T-shirts available before anyone had even heard us play,” Gibson said.

While this horse-before-the-cart approach wouldn’t work in most situations, it was great for Tilford Hayes.

The album got airplay on 13 different stations, including HI-99 and WREB, as well as allowing them to tour the Midwest.

“We were known for our harmony,” Gibson said. “We won a lot of awards. We won Harmony Group of the Year five or six straight years.”

Those were Wabash Valley Country Music Awards, which the band picked up a few more of over the years, including individual honors for Gibson and Carpenter.

“Not that it was a great big deal, but for the area it was,” Gibson said.

These days, the guys in the band have day jobs and other musical pursuits (Gibson recently released a solo acoustic album), but Tilford Hayes is still open to reunions as a way of reliving the old days.

“We are only doing reunion shows. We don’t just go out and play anywhere,” Gibson said. “On our reunion shows, we don’t learn any new songs, we just play what we did.

“Our reunion shows are what we did back then.”

The hope is that this Sunday, that blast from the past gives a brighter future to some deserving kids.

Laury Wallace’s Ride for Life is set for Aug. 4 in the Fortville and Noblesville area.

To support the cause, visit https://tinyurl.com/ybnbbwhe.

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