Community gifts older adults with Gladys Knight concert tickets, makes lasting impact

Community generosity is helping older adults be the special guests for a night of music.
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Community generosity is helping older adults be the special guests for a night of music.

It’s spurred by the coordination of Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. The group is the host of Saturday’s Evening with Gladys Knight, featuring the “Empress of Soul” at the Overture Center.

For many older adults, the days leading up to the event already have been memorable.

“It’s amazingly crazy. I’m telling you, I am so thrilled. I’m really thrilled,” 62-year-old Sylvia Boyack said. “I grew up on Gladys Knight. I grew up listening to her and the Pips. All her music. She’s always made great music, and she’s just one of the loves of my life.”

Boyack is one of about 50 older adults belonging to NewBridge Madison who plan to attend the concert. The group with the nonprofit is able to attend after donations poured in and covered ticket costs.

Last week, Deana Wright, the NewBridge diversity and inclusion manager, said she reached out to Johnson to see if any donors would step up.

Madison Attorney Sara Beachy responded with a nearly $2,000 donation. “I guess I would say I’ve reached a point in my life where I can help others, and there have been times in the past in my life where others have helped me,” she said.

Since that initial call and response, Johnson has posted regularly to his Facebook, sharing stories of a mother who’s feeling a void or a grandmother who’s never been to a concert.

Comments said in response, “Let me know what to do,” and “Has this need been filled?”

Johnson said $20,000 has been donated for the cause, sponsoring adults like Boyack, who previously worked in the catering industry.

She said she has never attended a party as a guest.

“For 20 years, I worked those parties,” Boyack said. “I was a server or I was the bartender or the supervisor. And now I get to be a guest.”

Beachy said, “That’s been a really gratifying aspect of this is to see more people stepping up, more people stepping up to ask and say, ‘I know this wonderful person who would love to go to this event and wouldn’t be able to otherwise.’ And then other people stepping into say, ‘I can help you do that.’”

Johnson said seats are still available for donors to sponsor older adults. Donations can be made here.

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.