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Music brings family together at 'Strength of Strings' benefit for father and son

March 30, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Drake Fignar,left, and friend Anthony Pappas play at the "Strength of Strings" event held Saturday at the Funkstown American Legion to benefit his dad Jeff who suffered life altering injuries from a car accident.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Dozens of people clamored around the small stage inside the ballroom at American Legion Post 211 in Funkstown, eager to hear 12-year-old Drake Fignar perform.

Skillful beyond their years, Drake and friend Anthony Pappas played “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd before the audience. But also for Drake’s father, Jeffrey Scott Fignar, who watched via Skype on a computer resting on a table about 25 feet away.

Fignar, who is diabetic, suffered a brain injury and has been paralyzed since a 2011 car accident that threatened his life.

“It’s kind of like being trapped inside your body,” said Fignar’s sister, Erin Smith. “He’s really showed a big improvement, with his friends coming out. He’s really starting to try again and put some effort into things.”

Drake’s performance was one of several Saturday night, as hundreds of people attended “Strength of Strings,” a benefit for Fignar and his son. All proceeds from the event will go toward an educational trust fund for Drake, a sixth-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown who has juvenile diabetes.

“It’s really a fantastic showing of support,” said August West, an organizer of the event and longtime friend of Fignar.

Smith said her older brother cannot speak and his body is weak, but he can understand everything that’s going on around him. Saturday was the happiest she’s seen him since his accident, she said.

“I saw him smiling and it brought tears to my eyes,” said Smith, a Smithsburg resident.

Longtime friend CJ Verron of Hagerstown called Fignar “one of the most free-spirited people” he’s ever met.

“For him to be trapped in his own body like this, it’s just the saddest thing. It hurts,” Verron said. “To go visit him, I try to stay strong because I don’t want him to see me upset.”

Fignar’s girlfriend and Drake’s mother, Jamie Grant of Hagerstown, said she’s been “stuck on hope” ever since his accident, and she was grateful to see all of the support.

“His smile is not usually that big,” she said.

Monetary donations were accepted at the door and numerous silent auction items were available inside as five bands provided entertainment throughout the night.

Jeff’s cousin, Alex Fignar of Cambridge, Md., said it was easy to convince his band members to make the trip up in support of his family members.

“Music brought me and my friends together, and that’s what’s bringing everybody together,” he said.

West said the group already has taken up a collection and received enough to purchase Fignar a motorized wheelchair.

Fignar, who formerly worked at the Better Days Animal League in Shippensburg, Pa., currently is recuperating at NMS Healthcare on Marsh Pike northeast of Hagerstown, his family said.

To donate

Direct contributions toward Drake Fignar’s trust fund can be made out to Account No. 50291870, and mailed to Maryland College Investment Plan, P.O. Box 17479, Baltimore, MD 21297-1479. Also, cab vouchers to help family members visit Fignar can be sent to Jamie Grant, 314 E. Franklin St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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