Help them help others

Recovery Concert featuring Philly’s In the Pocket on Sept. 15 will benefit the Leigh Leckerman Scholarship Fund

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Finding harmony: The second annual Recovery Concert, presented by the Leigh Leckerman Scholarship Fund and Clean & Sober Radio, will feature entertainment by David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket. Source: David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket

It’s like that famous line uttered by the mysterious, bodiless voice in the 1989 classic Field of Dreams — “If you build it, he will come.” Except in Denise Leckerman’s case, “hundreds” is a more apt description.

Last year at Feasterville’s Brookside Manor, Leckerman organized the first Recovery Concert, a benefit show that united loved ones in the community affected by addiction. Featuring a performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Byrd of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the event welcomed 350 attendees — the maximum capacity of Brookside.

Now, Leckerman is preparing to do it all again. On Sept. 15 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, she and Clean & Sober Radio will present the second annual Recovery Concert. The evening is slated to feature entertainment by David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket, and speeches by Tony Luke Jr. and Lisa Thomas-Laury, with proceeds benefiting the Leigh Leckerman Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship, which is under the umbrella of Livengrin, a Bensalem-based treatment facility, helps finance the addiction recovery of low-income individuals who have exhausted their state benefits. Anyone, even those outside of the Lower Bucks County vicinity, are eligible for the financial assistance.

“You don’t need to be from the immediate area to benefit from the scholarship,” Leckerman said.

At its heart, the mission of the scholarship is to make sure people struggling with addiction receive the care they need before they harm themselves or someone else. The fund was named after Leckerman’s stepdaughter Leigh, who was struck by a drunken driver 15 years ago. Leigh, who was in her last year at Penn State University, was killed as the direct result of addiction.

Rather than turn their pain into anger, Leckerman and her husband Steve, who serves on the board of directors at Livengrin, turned it into action. The Leigh Leckerman Scholarship Fund was formed in 2013 with the tagline “Help Us Help Others.” According to Leckerman, a panel decides each year’s recipients. The funds are then given directly to the treatment center or recovery house to pay for detox and counseling until the person is eligible for benefits.

“The scholarship fund kind of bridges the gap,” she said.

The Recovery Concert is one of several fundraising initiatives hosted throughout the year to benefit the Leigh Leckerman Scholarship Fund, though it’s quickly becoming the most well-attended. Thanks to the outpouring of support from the community, this year’s event is expected to welcome a twice-as-large crowd of 750 guests.

In 2017, Leckerman and her support team sold out Brookside Manor on their own. This year, she has partnered with Gary Hendler and Clean & Sober Radio, which airs every Friday at 3 p.m. on WWDB-AM 860, to present the show. The main entertainment act of the evening will be Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket, a band formed by the drummer of Philadelphia’s The Hooters in 2010. In the Pocket encompasses a handful of all-star local musicians who cover classic Philadelphia tracks.

During the show, attendees will also hear from Luke Jr., who recently lost his own son to addiction, and Thomas-Laury, who will share details from her book On Camera And Off: When the News is Good and When It’s Not.

Despite the Recovery Concert only being in its second year, Leckerman is humbled over how much of an interest the community has taken.

“Everyone jumps on board because it’s become such a problem,” she said. “Everyone knows somebody. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. The disease does not discriminate.”

Addiction is also still an ever-growing national issue. Until people are no longer dying from fentanyl, until parents are no longer mourning the loss of their children, Leckerman isn’t going to stop her efforts.

“As long as the problem exists, we’re going to keep pushing,” she said. “It’s never enough.” ••

If you go…

The second annual Recovery Concert will take place Saturday, Sept. 15, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Gershman Building at the University of the Arts, 401 S. Broad St. in Philadelphia.

To purchase advance tickets, visit cleanandsoberbroadcasting.com/tickets.

For additional information, call Denise Leckerman at 215–377–1034 or Jim Pietrowski at 267–549–7989.

For more on Livengrin, located at 4833 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem, visit livengrin.org.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com