Helping others through song

Local musicians unite for MS society fundraiser

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 2, 2018

 Sandy Mulligan, of Manchester, Michigan, performs during an open mic fundraiser for the Michigan Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at Hometown Heroes Coffee and More in Center Line Oct. 21.

Sandy Mulligan, of Manchester, Michigan, performs during an open mic fundraiser for the Michigan Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at Hometown Heroes Coffee and More in Center Line Oct. 21.

Photo by Sean Work

CENTER LINE — Several musicians from the open mic community recently tuned their guitars and opened their hearts to help others.

On Oct. 21, they banded together at Hometown Heroes Coffee and More, 25029 Van Dyke Ave., to raise money for the Michigan Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Fellow musician and friend Vita Palazzolo, who has multiple sclerosis, or MS, organized the fourth annual Music, Mocha & More fundraiser. Hometown Heroes Coffee and More owner Daniel Snyder donated 20 percent of the day’s proceeds to the Michigan Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Vita is a regular customer, and when she asked I couldn’t say no because she is a wonderful lady,” Snyder said. “I thought it was a great cause.”

Approximately 30 musicians performed 10-minute sets throughout the day, offering their own original songs as well as several covers.

Palazzolo, 58, a percussionist who grew up in Clawson and now resides in Madison Heights, was one of the many musicians who performed throughout the day. She was diagnosed with MS in 2010. At first, she thought she was having a stroke and went to emergency at a local hospital. But after undergoing an MRI on the brain, “they found suspicious plaques of MS.” The next step was to see a neurologist.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “What Is Multiple Sclerosis” brochure, MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms can include numbness in the limbs, paralysis, tremors, painful sensations, slurred speech, blurred or double vision, or vision loss. The symptoms and severity of MS vary among those living with the disease.

The brochure states, “There are many disease-modifying medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to treat MS; these medications have been shown to be effective in reducing disease activity in relapsing forms of MS.”

Palazzolo’s musical friends didn’t hesitate when she invited them to participate in the fundraiser.

“I met Vita eight years ago when I went to my first open mic,” said 55-year-old Troy musician Theresa Ancick, who plays guitar “and a little bit of banjo.” “Vita is your friend forever. She’ll do anything for you. She supports everyone’s dreams.”

Audra Kubat, Tamara Finlay and Emily Rose — known on the music circuit as Kubat, Finlay and Rose — played a set during the event. The Detroit-based folk trio — influenced by Crosby, Stills & Nash — performs three-part harmony, writes its own songs and doesn’t hold back with the instruments, strumming guitars, mandolins, banjos and auto harps in its shows. At times, there’s even an accordion. Kubat, Finlay and Rose jumped on board right away to be at the fundraiser for Palazzolo.

“She has a big heart,” Rose said. “She’s an inspiration.”

Local musician Robby Chism, of Fraser, also donated his talent for the fundraiser. Chism, who works at Huber Breese Music in Fraser, said the music retailer donates prizes every year for the MS event.

“Vita is one of the sweetest people. She’s a motivational person,” the mandolin player said. “Everyone I know in the music community who knows Vita loves Vita. She keeps everyone together.”

For more information on MS, visit www.nationalmssociety.org.

Hometown Heroes Coffee and More holds an open mic night at 7 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month. For more information, visit hometownheroescoffeeandmore.com or call (586) 393-1833.