Benefit concert to help MU student critically injured over spring break

Monday, April 21, 2008 | 8:24 p.m. CDT; updated 4:12 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The MU Greek community is hosting a concert at the Blue Note on Tuesday to benefit Mike Maniaci, a senior member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, who was critically injured after being hit by a car while on spring break in Panama City Beach, Fla.

The concert is just one of the efforts at MU aimed at raising money to relieve the Maniaci family of some of the cost incurred by the accident.

If you go

What: Mike Maniaci benefit concert When: Doors open at 8:30 Tuesday Where: The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St. Why: Maniaci, an MU senior, was critically injured after being hit by a car while on spring break in Panama City Beach, Fla. Money raised at the event will help Maniaci’s family pay medical bills. Who: John Gurney Band, Breakdown, the Kopy Kats and a band made of the members of Farmhouse fraternity will be performing How much: $5 cover for those 21 and older; $7 for those under 21

In the accident, which occurred on March 26, Maniaci sustained multiple injuries, the most significant of which was severe brain trauma that left him in critical condition. Maniaci is still in a coma but made enough progress to be relocated from Florida to St. Louis on April 17.

MU senior Ryan Keller, a member of Breakdown, one of the bands performing at the benefit, has been coordinating the concert with the Blue Note and promoting it to all of MU’s Greek chapters.

Keller, also the social chairman for Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, is one of many Greek students that has only met Maniaci but still feels compelled to help the family. He said that being Greek and understanding the bond between fraternity brothers is what made him want to help.

“It is just kind of understood that if (members of the Greek community) can do anything (to help), we’re going to do it,” Keller said.

The idea for the concert came from Paul and Michael Spearing, friends of Maniaci and musicians in the local group John Gurney Band, which will also perform Tuesday. Paul is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and Michael was Maniaci’s roommate at Phi Kappa Theta last semester.

On Tuesday, $3 of the $5 required for entry into the concert will go to a benefit fund that some of Maniaci’s relatives have set up for the donations.

“(The concert) is just a reflection of how everyone really wants (Maniaci) to pull through and they’re just doing their part to make it easier on his family,” Paul Spearing said.

Maniaci’s older sister, Jenny Maniaci said that her family could never have imagined the amount of prayer, love and support they have received.

“Our family is so grateful and overwhelmed by the positive response we have received following Mike’s accident,” she said. “Family, friends and people that have never even met our family or Mike have come together on his behalf. It’s truly amazing.”

Jenny Maniaci created a group called “Prayers for Mike” on, a social networking Web site — a group which now has more than 3,000 members.

Maniaci’s cousins, the Destito family of St. Louis, created a Web site for Mike. provides updates on his progress and instructions for those looking to donate. The Web site also offers “Praying for Mike” wristbands for a $5 donation.

Another effort from the community came on April 10 when the MU School of Business held a barbecue fundraiser.

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