SMITHSBURG, Md. — Mitchell Akers’ friends said he had planned to attend a rock concert Friday night at the Smithsburg fire hall on Main Street.
But the 18-year-old Smithsburg High School senior never got the chance to go.
Mitchell died Wednesday from injuries he suffered after falling off a vehicle Tuesday morning while working for the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium.
The concert originally was supposed to feature the Detroit-based band Rocky Loves Emily and five other acts. However, the sudden tragedy prompted Mitchell’s friends to change the focus of the show.
They dubbed the event “Mosh for Mitchell.”
“When events changed, we thought it was more appropriate to make it about him,” said Sean Scott, a friend of Mitchell who graduated from Smithsburg High in 2010. “He was always there for us, now we’re here for him. He deserves to have this happen.”
Scott also is the bass guitar player for Next to Nothing, one of the bands that played Friday night.
He and his bandmates, Keller Nigh and Connor Brown, said the news of their friend’s death hit them like a ton of bricks.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Nigh said. “I knew he was injured but found out the next day he was brain dead.”
Nigh, a Smithsburg High student, said his classmates have rallied to make the best of a tragic situation. Earlier this week, a majority of the student body wore orange, which was Mitchell’s favorite color, to remember him.
Brown said the students also wrote their fondest memories of Mitchell on a large poster in the lunch room. He said the poster would be given to Mitchell’s parents at a later date.
The inside of the venue looked like any other concert. Musicians tuned their instruments before taking the stage, and bands set up booths to sell T-shirts and other merchandise.
But the different part was all of the orange T-shirts and ribbons.
Smithsburg Middle School student Holly Hogue, who said her brother Robby was best friends with Mitchell, wore an orange shirt to show her support.
“He was a guy that no matter how bad of a mood you were in, he would always cheer you up, she said. “He was an amazing person.”
Organizers of the concert said the $7 cover charge and proceeds from concessions would be given to Mitchell’s parents, who did not attend the event.
Mitchell’s father, Richard Akers, is the acting director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools.
Brandon Ellis, lead singer of Rocky Loves Emily, said Friday’s concert was one of many stops on the band’s four-month national tour.
He said he found out about Mitchell’s death several hours before the concert.
“I’m floored to see a music community who loved this kid so much to come together for the family,” Ellis said. “It really blows my mind. I’m just humbled to be a part of it.”