Roc-Kay to reunite for benefit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2005

There’s a strange buzz in the air at the Harris Funeral Home. Conversations, drums, horns, keyboards, vocalists and sheet music are the norm these days, after regular business hours of course. Seems the whole staff and has taken up a cause to assist local citizen Brandon Barnes.

Brandon, since early childhood, has struggled with an unidentifiable virus, which in turn has caused numerous ailments, including uncontrollable blood pressure. The blood pressure issue has caused Brandon’s kidneys to fail him. He has been on dialysis for the last 20 years.

The good news is Brandon has been approved for a kidney transplant at the Emory Transplant Center in Atlanta. With the onset of Brandon’s illness as a young child has impeded his ability to work and obtain insurance.

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The transplant itself will be paid for through the Medicaid system, but there are several obstacles to consider. After the transplant procedure is completed, there are several medicines that are required for life. One such prescription will be over seven hundred dollars per month.

Brandon is the son of Bennie Barnes and Brenda Chambliss Barnes Pitt. He is also the maternal grandson of Betty Chambliss Whitney and the late William Chambliss. Brandon’s paternal grandparents are Leslie Barnes and the late Alice M. Barnes

The fundraising has been tough and strenuous with numerous food sales and prayer breakfasts over the last few months.

Local funeral director Vanessa Harris, along with members of the original Roc-Kays, will sponsor a charity concert and dance on Sept. 9, 2005, at the Suffolk Armory. In a show of solidarity, some of the band members will travel from destinations as far as Pennsylvania and California.The start time for the event will be 8 p.m. Harris, a musician in her own right, will reassemble the Roc-Kays, a well-known band in the Suffolk area during the 1970s. Managed by Albert Blanks. This particular band gained notoriety quickly and opened for such acts as Kool and the Gang, The Showmen, Young-Holt Unlimited, Candi Staton and the Detroit Emeralds. This reunion will serve a two-fold purpose of seeing old friends and giving something back to the community, said Harris.

The family of Brandon Barnes is turning to their own village for support and help. Donations may be sent to the Brandon Barnes Transplant Fund, P.O. Box 846, Suffolk, Va. 23439. All donations over twenty-five dollars are tax deductible, and the family certainly thanks the community for their ongoing support and prayers.

For further donation information, you may contact Betty Chambliss Whitney at 539-2828 or Brenda Chambliss Barnes Pitt at 686-4712. For event information, contact Vanessa Harris at 539-6500 or Connell Kahan at 651-0294.

S. Terence Gill