Forgive Todd Fagan for slacking off a bit during his Saturday gig as principal cymbal-crasher for the annual Heartbeats Drum-A-Thon, a fundraising event for March of Dimes.
This year the Martinez man will "only" play drums for 10 consecutive hours - non-stop - as opposed to the 12 hours he pounded away in 2000 and 2001. Then again, you might shave a couple hours of strenuous exercise off your schedule, too, if you'd had heart valve replacement surgery in the past year.
"He's back and ready to play again, which is pretty amazing," said Fagan's sister and co-organizer Kim Walker. "We sent out mailers to our family and friends and at the top it says, 'We're at it again - new valve, pacemaker and all."'
An active booster of March of Dimes in its fight against birth defects, Fagan knows more about the cause than any slick pamphlet could ever explain. Born with multiple heart defects, the 30-year-old landed in Minnesota's Mayo Clinic in June when a blood-gushing mitral valve required surgery.
"I told them I did a 12-hour drum marathon and they couldn't believe it," Fagan says of his doctors at the Mayo Clinic. "They thought I was crazy."
The Annual Heartbeats Drum-A-Thon was born three years ago, a product of Walker's decade-plus involvement with March of Dimes and Fagan's 20 years of drumming. He wanted to do something more interactive than spend hours on the telephone seeking donations and organizing teams for the organization's annual Walk America.
So far, the brother and sister team have been the sole organizers of the Drum-A-Thon, but Fagan says he recently joked to her that soon "we're going to have to hire a whole committee of people to put this thing together."
The March of Dimes would be so lucky. This year's Drum-A-Thon in the parking lot of Milton Ruben Chevrolet on Washington Road will feature demonstrations and interactive games conducted by karate students and instructors from Martial Arts of America, food, a live remote by WGOR Oldies 93.9 and an appearance by Augusta Lynx mascot Louie the Lynx. Craig's Place Restaurant and Catering will donate hotdogs, chips and condiments.
According to Walker, last year's event raised approximately $2,500. Linda Griffith, Augusta division director of March of Dimes, said proceeds from such donations go to research and development of cures for various birth defects including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, heart and lung malformations and club foot. Fagan will play along to songs on the radio - "I know someone's going to request Wipeout" - and freestyle from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
There is no admission to the annual Heartbeats Drum-A-Thon; money is raised from donations, games and concessions. For more information or to volunteer, call Kim Walker at 650-2437. For more information on March of Dimes or the organization's May 4 Walk America event, call Linda Griffith at 733-8438.
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