Georgina Smith has been living with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, for around a decade—and she considers herself lucky. That’s because it’s a disease that’s becoming more prevalent in younger generations, and it’s why she’s spearheading a benefit concert for kids with Crohn’s on Saturday at 9Lives.
“Were getting illnesses younger and younger, which is what this whole benefit is about. I started finding out that babies and children are getting this disease,” she said. “A lot of [kids] can’t go to school because they can’t leave and go to the bathroom 30, 40 times a day—and they don’t want to be embarrassed. A lot of them are home schooled, so they’re missing out on these major things in life.”
In an effort to allow kids to reclaim some of those lost experiences, Smith said 100 percent of the proceeds from Saturday's concert will go to Camp Oasis. The camp is a co-ed residential program that works to enrich the lives of children with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) website.
To raise proceeds for the camp, four bands—Animo, Just Chill, Wasted Noise, and Thrive—will be performing. The evening will include food and photo sessions by Betty Nice of B. Nice Photos, as well as a raffle.
“Pretty much anyone who buys a raffle ticket is walking out with something, that’s how much stuff I have,” Smith said. “The bands are incredible. Wasted Noise is from Salinas, Thrive is a CD I played constantly since I saw them in Santa Cruz, and it’s all kind of like a Reggae rock, so it’s all real mellow.”
Sticking with Reggae’s message of “one love” is Smith’s entourage. Everyone is donating their time and services free of charge, including 9Lives co-owner Jorge Briones.
“Doing something that’s going to help the cause that [Georgina’s] trying to work for and make more people aware of, we believe in it, very strongly,” Briones said. “Supporting events like the Camp Oasis concert falls right in line with what we want to do here.”
Smith, who has been an active supporter of the CCFA for upward of seven years, said it was Animo’s lead singer, Mo Le-Sherif, who approached her about throwing a benefit concert.
“He came up to me at a Cal-Roots festival and said, ‘I’d like to put on a show for you and your disease.’ It was his idea and I thought, ‘Well, not a lot of people know what CCFA is, let alone know what Crohn’s disease is.' So I figured what better way to get people out than to be generous for the children.”
All proceeds raised through the benefit concert go directly to the camp, which provides 24-hour medical care, and allows children and their parents to attend for free, Smith said.
“They go out and play games and hike. Families can go and learn different things about coping with Crohn’s, talk to other parents and see what they’re going through. The children can relate to each other and make friends,” Smith said. “It’s great because they get to just be kids—for free. And the medical care, that’s what took me. These parents get to learn a lot.”
Smith said education is an undeniably important part of the disease because poor diet—especially the consumption of processed foods—can trigger episodes. This realization ultimately prompted Smith to write a cookbook, titled Health, Happiness and Long Life: A Guide to Eating Healthy with IBS, Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
“It took me a really long time [to write] but I wanted people to understand that there are other people with this problem, and because it’s a digestive disease a lot of people don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “And it’s not just for people with digestive disorders. It’s just natural foods—the way that we’re supposed to eat.”
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. Smith’s book is also available for purchase through her website.
What: Benefit Concert for Children with Crohn's Disease
Where: At 9Lives, located at 7430 Monterey St., Gilroy
When: Saturday, Jan. 21