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'Van We Can' draws crowd

Mason Ellsworth received loud applause at fundraiser

July 24, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER
  • Mason Ellsworth, who is in a wheelchair and needs a van for transport, attended the "Van We Can" fundraiser Saturday in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Trish Rudder, Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- A fundraiser to help purchase a custom van for a young musician who suffered a traumatic brain injury brought out a crowd Saturday.

Mason Ellsworth, 20, who was in an automobile accident on July 23, 2008, and is in a wheelchair, received loud applause when he arrived at the "Van We Can" fundraiser.

Held at the historic Shepherdstown Train Station, the event featured music performed before a standing-room-only audience by the Winchester, Va.-based orchestra Symphony of the Valley with family members including his father, Brian Ellsworth, who plays horn; grandmother, Nancy Ellsworth, and uncle, Rodger Ellsworth, who play violin; Richard Polonchak, who plays bassoon; Margaret Ellsworth Terry; and the Bridget Ellsworth Quintet.

Dianne Batt, an event volunteer, said she has known the Ellsworths for about 20 years.

"The family is very musical and is supported by this community," she said.

Batt said she spends time with Mason and has seen his progress.

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"In the beginning, the doctors said 'don't expect much,' but now, he talks and is getting better," Batt said.

Batt said she works when she's needed at Ellsworth Caterers, a business owned by Mason's mother, Sylvia.

"I love the Ellsworths," Batt said. "It's like walking into my own home."

"In spite of the prognosis, Mason has improved more than leaps and bounds," said Natalia Eyestone, another event volunteer. "This community pulls together, and this is just one example."

Neal Martineau and his wife, Patty, moved to Shepherdstown about seven years ago. He said he has attended other fundraising events for Mason.

The community supports one another, Martineau said.

"It has a marvelous mix of people," he said.

After the concert, Rodger Ellsworth said "this community is remarkable, and I wish people in other communities would use this as an example."

"It's amazing," Sylvia Ellsworth said. "The love is here."

Lead violinist Gwen Pfouts of Winchester said the symphony members donated their time to perform for the fundraiser.

Pfouts said she founded the orchestra in December 2008, and the group of 20 musicians has been performing since last summer, she said.

Pfouts said the orchestra wants to grow.

"It's a great group of people," she said. "We need more strings."

Assistant conductor Jared Robertson said members are from the Eastern Panhandle, Virginia and Maryland.

A second fundraising concert will be today from 3 to 6 p.m. at Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Md.

A suggested donation is $20 for the concert. All proceeds will go toward the purchase of a custom van for Mason.

Donations can be sent to the Ellsworth Family Fund, Jefferson Security Bank, P.O. Box 35, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.

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