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Benefit Concert to Commemorate Briarcliff Teen

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – A benefit concert in memory of Demetri Demeropoulos, a former Briarcliff High School student who died last May from spinal cord cancer and a brain tumor, has been planned for Thursday night at Lucy's Lounge in Pleasantville.

Musician friends of Demeropoulos will perform acoustic and rock music, and donations collected at the door will mostly go to Dr. George Jallo, a spinal cord surgeon and neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hopsital in Baltimore, MD, who treated Demeropoulos during his two and a half-year battle with cancer until his death at age 18.

"My son was very popular. It's been quite a tragedy," said Demeropoulos' mother, Sally Demeropoulos. "He played hockey and lacrosse and he was friends with a core group of about 10 kids. It's a type of therapy for them to come back and play."

Katie Lynch, a friend of Demeropoulos who grew up next door to him, said she decided she wanted to do something in memory of her friend when she flew home for his funeral and received a box of medical supplies at her doorstep.

The box containing bandages, pillow, linens and other medical supplies had been sent by Demeropoulos' mother with a note that they "should help someone."

"When Sally did that, it was just such a gesture. I saw that she needed a little help getting the supplies where they needed to go," said Lynch, who is planning to go to medical school next year after a year working with the Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining as part of the Americorps volunteer program.

With help from other friends of Demeropoulos, Lynch arranged for money from an annual benefit concert to be sent to Jallo, and for medical supplies to be sent to various places locally and internationally, including the Children's Center in Ossining, Life Project for Africa's Njia Health Center in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, and the Wangki Tangni Women's Center in Nicaragua.

"We have a couple of missions. One is to raise awareness and money for brain and spinal cord tumor research. The second mission is to help donate unused medical supplies," Lynch said.

Both Lynch and Demeropoulos' mother said Demeropoulos had a magnanimous personality that lifted the spirits of those around him.

"He just had a way of making the best of every situation," Demeropolous' mother said.

Chris Schilling, another of Demeropoulos' friends who will be performing at the benefit concert said the concert is a good representation of Demeropoulos, who would have wanted to turn his death into something positive.

"He was a very carefree kind of guy, a very easy going person who was always happy doing what he wanted," Schilling said. "He would see this as something positive."

Demeropoulos' mother is now dealing with a second illness: her younger son, Alex, 17, has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

"To have to tell him he was diagnosed with cancer was very hard, but it's a very treatable cancer," she said. "He gets by with my older son's core group of friends. They're an amazing group of kids. He has a lot of support."

The benefit concert entitled "With Help From Demetri" will start at 6 p.m. at Lucy's Lounge at 446 Bedford Rd. in Pleasantville.

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