Keith and his wife, Lori, love music. But what they love even more than music is LIVE music. Fifteen years ago, they were at a venue in San Jose, CA listening to a band when they had a great idea. “Wouldn’t it be so cool to have a band play in our backyard, where we could invite our friends to have a really unique experience?” Keith recalled asking his wife. With Hurricane Katrina ravaging Louisiana and Mississippi, they decided to throw in a raffle to help raise money for the American Red Cross. At that moment, the Bertani Benefit Concert (BBC) was born and has been growing strong ever since.
With the help of an army of friends, Keith and his wife have raised money for the American Red Cross, ALS Association, Livestrong Foundation, American Cancer Society and multiple local organizations since the concert began in 2005. “We were doing something fun for ourselves, but we wanted to use the concert as a conduit to give back to deserving charities,” said Keith. BBC has built such a fan base that people fly into CA each year just to be a part of the concert.
A few years ago, Keith was at a Michael Franti & Spearhead concert when Michael mentioned Do It For The Love. Keith immediately recognized that their goals were aligned. He looked up the organization to learn more, then he and Lori decided to begin raising money for DIFTL, which has since become the title charity of the event. “Meeting Sara and Michael – they’re just wonderful people. I’ve been to their Rocker’s Ball twice. Seeing the outpouring of all different types of people coming together to support a great cause was amazing,”
Even with the awe Keith felt for DIFTL, it wasn’t until he and his wife’s dear friend, Kaya, was a DIFTL wish recipient that the connection became truly personal. Kaya, who was instrumental in helping organize BBC, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and passed away before she was able to experience her wish. Keith explained, “After she passed, we’ve had a tribute for her at the concert each year. We blow bubbles to show that we’re thinking of her.” Through this grassroots, community-oriented event, Keith and Lori are able to raise funds for DIFTL to help fulfill a musical dream for someone – like Kaya. “We want to help give someone that opportunity,” Keith expressed.
When it began, BBC had around 40-50 attendees and featured one band. Keith and Lori now host a backyard concert for up to 175 of their closest friends with three bands. Attendees pay for their tickets and bid generously on silent and online auction items to help raise money. Lori reaches out to local businesses to secure donations and they work hard to put together appealing packages for the people they know will be attending, helping boost the funds they raise. There’s even a VIP event the night before for sponsors, who pay a fee to have the opportunity to meet the bands and hang out for a few hours.
In addition to being a hugely successful fundraising event, the BBC is a family affair. Keith and Lori’s two teenagers are fulfilling their community service hours for school through an event they helped create as a family. “They will have this as a memory and can continue doing their own philanthropy as they get older,” said Keith with a smile. And for that, we’re all grateful!