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June 29, 2013

VIDEO | Battle of bands memorializes Nanty Glo musician

NANTY GLO — Those who knew Mike Worthington, or shared his passion for music, will say the local Nanty Glo music scene lost one of its brightest stars in 2006. That year, the 24-year-old became the victim of a hit-and-run accident while he was in Florida studying music recording.

Worthington left behind a daughter and, a pregnant  fiance, but his dynamic force of personality still echoes through the Nanty Glo Pool and Park. Each year, his family and friends gather there for a benefit concert, surrounding themselves in the sounds that Worthington loved: Hard rock and heavy metal.

“(He was) so much more than a talented musician,” said his cousin, Lloyd Rummell, who organizes the annual event. “He was definitely destined for great things. If he was still around, I’m sure he’d have a few CDs out.”

On Saturday, the second   annual Mike Worthington Memorial Benefit brought out four area rock groups for a battle of the bands contest. 10 Million Devils, Blood Union, Juke Left and Rummell’s band, One Adam 12, competed for a top cash prize of $250, along with claim to the Mike Worthington Cup trophy.

Admission was $7; $5 if attendants brought a non perishable food item to be donated to the Nanty Glo Food Pantry. Portions of the annual concert’s proceeds go toward college funds for Worthington’s daughters, Taylor, 14, and Michaela, 6.

A $500 scholarship is awarded in Worthingon’s name each year to a student from Blacklick Valley High School, where Worthington graduated in 2000.

This year’s scholarship was awarded in May.

“It felt great to do that,” said Worthington’s mother, Susan, who was very close to her

firstborn son.

She works to honor him through the benefit concert, even though the T-shirts and posters that bear his face make it difficult at times.

“It took us years to get past (his death),” she said. “But, I always wanted to do something to keep his memory alive with all his friends.”

Without those friends, Mike might have never latched onto music as he did, according to Rummell. He said Mike was very athletic and came from a football family.

“Me and my cousin had an idea to start a band, so we went up to Mike’s house and talked him into quitting football,” Rummell said. “We forced him (into it) and he loved it.”

Rummell said Susan was less than pleased. Over time, however, she grew into his biggest supporter. On Saturday she danced alongside Mike’s friends and fans, while One Adam 12 played tunes from bands like Nirvana that had influenced the young musician.

She left the floor when the tears surfaced again.

“It was a really hard loss,” Rummell said. “He was really loved by all of us. He’d walk into a room and it would light up.”

Rummell and his girlfriend, Jenny Shirley, describe themselves as Susan’s “crazy marketing team.” Susan admitted that she couldn’t get the event going without their help, or the bands, whose members all played with or befriended Mike. They eagerly volunteer for the concert’s lineup each year.

“This is the show all the bands look forward to doing,” Rummell said. “He was such a big person. He touched a lot of people’s lives. He had such a good fan base and (a lot of) friends.”

Rummell and Shirley said they look forward to keeping the event going in the years to come.

“It’s like a void is filled now,” Shirley said.

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