For Sean Welling, the stories and memories shared about his brother at each of the past two years’ benefit concerts have been as important as the money raised for the Fredonia State University memorial scholarship.
A Jamestown resident and Fredonia graphic design major, Rodney Welling died as a result of a motor vehicle accident on the Southern Tier Expressway on June 14, 2004. He was 33. Returning home to Jamestown from Mayville in heavy rain, Rodney’s Jeep hit a puddle on Route 86 — causing him to hydroplane, lose control of his vehicle and roll off the road.
Ensuring that Welling’s name is remembered, the Rodney W. Welling Memorial Scholarship was endowed at SUNY Fredonia. According to Sean, family and friends had planned on holding a series of three benefit concerts to raise the minimum $5,000 for the endowment and were floored when the first event raised enough money to start the scholarship.
More than 600 people attended the May 28, 2006 benefit at the Village Casino in Bemus Point — making for ‘‘a great time,’’ according to Sean.
‘‘He was very big in the music scene,’’ Sean Welling said of his brother. ‘‘Every one of the musicians playing this year and every musician who has played the benefit in the past knew Rod personally. Everyone shares their stories and ‘do-you-remember-whens’ at the event. It’s a good time.’’
Running from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, the Rod Welling Memorial Scholarship Musical Benefit will feature Jackson Rohm, Cindy Haight, Harbour Knights, Deuble & Vogan, R&D Welling, Dirty Mountain Band and Craig Campbell.
‘‘I just want to express my appreciation for everybody that takes time out of their day and out of the holiday weekend to stop in and pay a remembrance of my brother,’’ Sean said. ‘‘That obviously means a great deal to my family and I. We appreciate everybody who wants to come out and join us and say ‘Hello,’ even if it’s just stopping in for a moment. We appreciate that.’’
As it was envisioned as a three-year series of fundraiser, Sean Welling said that this may be the last year the benefit concert is held in its present form. Still interested in holding concerts in his brother’s memory, Sean said future concerts may be free events — possibly at outdoors venues.
More information about Sunday’s benefit event can be found online at www.rodsbenefit.tripod.com.
Jackson Rohm will play at the benefit concert Sunday in Bemus Point. Submitted photo