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March 7, 2013

Concert funds health-care scholarships

FAIRMONT — North Central West Virginia has a strong, thriving medical infrastructure, with numerous hospitals and medical facilities in need of qualified health-care professionals to staff them.

Unfortunately, with college tuitions continuing to rise, a lot of qualified young people or folks considering a career change may be discouraged from taking the first step on the pricey journey to working as a registered nurse, radiology technician, pharmacist or other job in the health industry.

Since 1991, the Foundation of Mon General Hospital has sponsored more than 30 students each year with educational scholarships. And every year, they’ve hosted a packed concert to raise money for kids to pursue their dreams.

On Saturday, March 16, The Fabulous Hubcaps will be back “by popular demand” to play an oldies and classic rock show to raise money for the foundation’s scholarship program.

“People are dancing all night,” said Debbie Harn, special events coordinator for Mon General Hospital Foundation. “The dance floor is packed.”

The Fabulous Hubcaps are an oldies cover group that’s been together since 1974 with a repertoire spanning from ’50s “Do-Wop”  to ’80s rock and roll. Harn said the band changes up its show every year with fresh costumes and new songs.

“They always try to have at least ... six new songs,” Harn said. They even play some modern songs; Harn said they do a great Lady Antebellum cover as well.

Half the draw of the event is the dance floor.

“There’s a huge dance floor,” she said, that’s open to everyone who comes.

It’s not just for older people either.

“We’ve gotten a lot of young people out there too,” Harn said. “They love it, because they come and they dance, dance, dance.”

It’s for a good cause. Every year, the Mon General Hospital Foundation awards roughly 34 scholarships of $1,000 on average to eligible students entering selected health-care professions.

To qualify, students must be a resident of Monongalia, Marion, Taylor, Preston, Wetzel, Harrison or Tucker counties in West Virginia or Fayette or Greene counties in Pennsylvania.

They must also be entering a medical area of study approved by the foundation, which includes respiratory therapy, ultrasound technology, pharmacy, physician assistance, a practical nurse license and much more.

“It’s a big list,” Harn said.

The scholarships are awarded to both “traditional” students — high school graduates who are entering college for the first time — and non-traditional students, who may be coming back for continuing education years after graduating.

“It’s based, too, on financial need,” she said. “We look at who’s got the greater need” when awarding the scholarships.

“There’s a lot of people who need help with school,” Harn said, with college tuitions as high as they are. “We want to make sure that people want to go into a health-care profession can.”

These students typically attend West Virginia University or Fairmont State University, providing them the training and contacts they need to get a job in the area.

And though the concert is fun, it’s also helping to make those dreams of working in medicine possible. The entry fee is $22, and Harn said they haven’t raised the price in 10 years.

“We know times are hard, and we want to make sure people can get out there,” she said.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Mylan Park Expo Center. Parking is free and tickets will be available at the door, though Harn said they’d like people to buy tickets in advance so they know how many chairs to set up.

Seating is also reserved for pre-purchasers.

“You can buy tickets at the door, but you’ll be sitting in the back of the room,” she said.

People can bring their own food and beverages. They’ll also be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day costume contest with a $100 prize for the winner.

Email Jonathan Williams at jwilliams@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @JWilliamsTWV.

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