How fundraising concert for St. Jude came together at Des Plaines Theatre

  • A benefit concert on Nov. 7 in Des Plaines in the memory of musician James Anthony Zito, who died in March 2015, aids St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

    A benefit concert on Nov. 7 in Des Plaines in the memory of musician James Anthony Zito, who died in March 2015, aids St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. courtesy of Phyllis Psyhogios

  • Nick Psyhogios, left, Carl Giammarese, Jimmy Peterik, Jimy Sohns, Jim Pilster during a previous concert to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. Local musicians will rock the stage on Nov. 7 in Des Plaines.

    Nick Psyhogios, left, Carl Giammarese, Jimmy Peterik, Jimy Sohns, Jim Pilster during a previous concert to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. Local musicians will rock the stage on Nov. 7 in Des Plaines. courtesy of Phyllis Psyhogios

 
By Phyllis Psyhogios
Street of Dreams Productions
Posted10/20/2021 6:00 AM

Our sixth annual Concert for Jimmy Zito -- Rockin' the House for St. Jude will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at the newly renovated Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines.

We started this event in 2015 as a memorial concert for my brother, Jim Zito, who was a friend to all and a talented musician. Jim passed away that year. Our friend, Ron Onesti, suggested that we have the memorial at The Arcada Theater in St. Charles.

 

At that event, more than 350 people showed up and we ended up raising over $8,500 for underprivileged children to attend the School of Rock Oak Park through "rock scholarships" that we set up in Jim's name.

A guitar auction with Ron Onesti, left, Phyllis Psyhogios and musician Jimy Sohns at a previous benefit concert to aid St. Jude Children's Hospital.
A guitar auction with Ron Onesti, left, Phyllis Psyhogios and musician Jimy Sohns at a previous benefit concert to aid St. Jude Children's Hospital. - courtesy of Phyllis Psyhogios

We received autographed guitars from Graham Nash and Buddy Guy to auction off at the event. Ron suggested that we hold a "Concert for Jimmy Zito" each year to remember Jim and to use this as a platform to raise money for charitable causes.

As St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has always been a front runner for our charitable donations in our family, we decided to concentrate our efforts on this worthy cause.

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St. Jude also holds a special place in the hearts of the Onesti family, as (Ron Onesti's wife) Elena (was a patient at St. Jude) when she was a child. It just all felt very right.

In 2016, Elena Onesti spoke to our audience at The Arcada Theater, and we had local celebrities donate their time to the show.

Carl Giammarese from The Buckinghams came up and sang two songs with my husband Nick Psyhogios's band, and Jimy Sohns from the Shadows of Knight performed in two of our concerts, singing his famed "Gloria!"

Elena Onesti and Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Elena was a patient at St. Jude when she was younger.
Elena Onesti and Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Elena was a patient at St. Jude when she was younger. - courtesy of Phyllis Psyhogios

We acquired autographed guitars from Bret Michaels, Sammy Hagar, Jimmy Peterik, and two that were signed by all of the members of The Buckinghams, The Cryan' Shames, The Ides of March, The New Colony Six and The Shadows of Knight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Those two guitars brought in $4,000 each at our 2018 concert with the auctioneering expertise of Ron Onesti.

My husband Nick is the producer of the show and music director. My part is to work with the St. Jude team setting up the event and donation links and coordinating rehearsals, programs, handouts, and marketing.

Each year we start with a slideshow of pictures of the previous event, with my brother's beautiful voice in the background. We end with the cast of performers on the stage and a St. Jude presentation.

Since we began our first concert, we have dedicated our proceeds to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and have raised more than $40,000 for children's charities in Jim's name through these concerts and events.

Phyllis and Nick Psyhogios of Wood Dale are the organizers of a concert to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. The concert is held in memory of Phyllis' brother, musician James Anthony Zito.
Phyllis and Nick Psyhogios of Wood Dale are the organizers of a concert to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. The concert is held in memory of Phyllis' brother, musician James Anthony Zito. - courtesy of Mike Caplan

This year, our concert includes a 12-piece band and 14 very talented performers. We have a guitar auction with guitars autographed by Bret Michaels and one by Sammy Hagar and his entire band. We have other giveaways and surprises, and it is a very heartfelt and energetic experience.

The A-list performers this year include Nick Psyhogios, Tony Ocean, Diva Montell, gospel artist Leah Oduro-Kwarten, Regina Karma, The Jersey Girls, Stefanie Lemmon-Brinegar, Jackson Snelling (of American Idol), Traci & Mike Bruccoleri, Lulu, Jack D'Amico, Matt Kissane and Vito Zatto.

All tickets are $25. To purchase tickets, visit desplainestheatre.com/events/concert-for-jimmy-zito-rockin-the-house-for-st-jude/.

If you can't make it to the concert, but would still like to help by donation to St. Jude, visit events.stjude.org/concertforjimmyzito2021.

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