About five years ago, 16-year-old Lauren McClusky, daughter of radio promotions veteran Jeff McClusky of Jeff McClusky & Associates, was brainstorming with her friend from Chicago rock band the Days about staging a benefit concert to raise money for the Special Olympics.
Lauren's father suggested she reach out to his friend Joe Shanahan, owner of Chicago's Metro, about staging a concert at the 1,150-capacity club. Shanahan agreed, and to date the annual Nelarusky event has raised more than $95,000 for the Special Olympics.
"We never imagined that it was going to be a success," says Lauren, who studies music business management at Columbia College in Chicago. "The first two years it was strictly high school bands in the Chicago area. I didn't want to stop doing it after that."
Now in its sixth year, Nelarusky (an amalgamation of Lauren's name) has become an official Lollapalooza preshow.
This year's sold-out benefit is scheduled for Aug. 1 at the Metro and will feature performances by Alabama Shakes, First Aid Kit, Dry the River and Filligar. Last year's concert raised $33,000. Lauren notes that the event has been organized by students like herself since its inception-and, of course, acknowledges the help of her father: "He's definitely been an adviser throughout the whole process."
Donation and sponsorship opportunities are available at Nelarusky.com.