Friends, community pull together for benefit concert to aid ill Manchester teen
MANCHESTER - It wasn't just a song that was dedicated to 15-year-old Theo Menswar to mark his intense battle against a rare blood disease; it was an entire concert.
"He's very humbled by it," said Theo's father, Manchester native Brant Menswar. "He does not view himself as a hero. He's just fighting for his life and he's fighting because he doesn't have a choice."
British musician Martyn Joseph headlined a benefit concert Friday night at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, hours after Theo's 11th surgery in 15 days at a hospital. All proceeds were to go toward the cost of treating Theo for myleodysplatic syndrome, a condition recently battled by "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts. The concert raised $6,400. That was added to $1,600 received pledged earlier for a total of $8,000 raised.
He had a bone marrow transplant in August and a series of life-threatening complications in the months that followed.
"It's been one battle after another," Menswar said.
Brant Menswar grew up in Manchester, and his father, Ted, was a longtime baseball coach at Manchester Memorial High School. Brant was a baseball prospect until a shoulder injury ended his career, turning him to music. He met Joseph at a music festival in England, and they became friends. .
Brant said it had probably been a few years since he spoke to Joseph, and he was touched to hear Joseph would be playing the benefit after getting a call from St. Anselm's political professor Dale Kuehne, a friend of the family.
Kuehne organized the event, getting the NHIP to provide the venue for free and several friends in the music industry to take care of putting on the show.
"It's just real cool to be a part of it and have everybody pitch in. Nobody comes to me and says 'You've got to give me this' or 'You've got to give me that.' It's 'How can I help,'" Kuehne said. Donors had already contributed $1,600 in advance of the concert, and he hoped the contributions would continue afterward as more people heard about Theo's fight.
Kuehne said the event was being recorded in HD video to send to Theo in his Orlando hospital room.
"I think he's going to be blown away," Brant said. "He's such a fan of music."
The package to Theo will also include greetings and well wishes from U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen and President Obama. Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley also donated an autographed jersey.
Since Theo's bone marrow transplant, the new blood cells have been attacking Theo's own cells, preventing his body from generating the new cells he needs to beat the condition.
Brant said Theo has survived several scares, including the loss of 7 liters of blood in 24 hours. After that, the blood showed up in his lungs and doctors had to intubate him for five days.
Brant said his son was not pleased to hear the doctor say the teen wouldn't be able to walk for a month. A week later, Theo showed up the doctor up by using a walker and getting himself to the nurse's station and back.
"He felt like he's already experienced a miracle here, and he could have another," Brant said. "He's already beaten something that they told him he couldn't - twice."
For more information, go to www.donationto.com/Theo-Fund