By Ron Matz

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—It’s a local organization devoted to fight bullying in schools and to help troubled teens, and this weekend they’re hosting a big benefit concert in Towson.

Ron Matz has more on the music and the message for students and parents.

Nick Patterson and Bobby Marshall are members of the band Exemptus. When a friend and band member took his own life they decided to do something.

“We tried to make the best of a bad situation. It was so unexpected to us. We decided we might as well help somebody else. Let’s make this really bad thing and make it into a really good thing,” Marshall said.

“It was pretty late in our senior year in high school. Our friend and bass player committed suicide. It was really hard on all of us. We couldn’t really figure out what to do to make ourselves feel better. My girlfriend came up with the idea to host a benefit concert. It will benefit other troubled teenagers,” Patterson said.

That concert is Sunday night at Towson’s Recher Theatre. It benefits SPEAK, an organization that helps troubled teens and fights bullying.

“We are prominent in fighting bullying. We were the first in the state to work with the governor in 2004 to pass legislation and want to continue that,” said Betty Schmedes, SPEAK president. “I work with teenagers all the time. I’m a registered nurse and youth minister and I’m so impressed with the young men that are doing the band benefit.”

SPEAK recently joined the Ravens’ Ray Rice at an anti-bullying event at Howard High School. After the loss of a friend, the band is speaking up for others.

“We’re trying to alleviate teen pressures. Cyberbullying is a big problem. We see an improvement in some areas but bullying is still a problem in all the schools. We want people to understand that we are there to help,” Schmedes said.

Sunday night’s concert will feature four local bands. You can support the local music scene and a very important cause.

“We want to be able to help people and save lives,” said Mary Ann Marshall, concert organizer. “I am so proud of these guys. They took a very negative situation, a troubling situation, and turned it into something positive. They’ve done a great job. They started this last year and they’re making it an annual event.”

SPEAK led the effort to get the Maryland Youth Crisis hotline number on student photo ID cards in Baltimore City and six counties.

“It’s very helpful for students when they can’t find any other place to call,” Schmedes said.

The benefit is “going to be a great time. We have great bands, all local, metal, rock and something for everybody. We have raffles too,” said Mary Ann Marshall.

For more information on Sunday night’s concert, click here.


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