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14-year-old guitarist promotes concert to help injured Jacksonville girl

5:54 PM, Jan 1, 2014   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  A 14-year old freshman at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is using his love of music to help out an older girl and neighbor, severely injured months ago in a crash that claimed the life of her mother.

Ari Howard, 14, plays classical guitar and is using his passion for music to help out 17-year-old Orly Ohayon. When he was in elementary school, she was in middle school and he remembered that she paid attention to the younger kids.

"She was really nice and she was always helping people, and it is now my time to help her," said Howard. "I said man when I grow up I want to be as nice as Orly so maybe this will help me on my way."

It was at the intersection at San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road on September 13 last year that Orly Ohayon and her mother Esther were hit by a car crossing the street to go to Yom Kipper services. Orly's mother was killed instantly, Orly survived and is still recovering from her injuries.

Ari Howard lives right around the corner from Orly and has organized a benefit concert to help her out.

Almost singlehandedly Howard has organized Orly's Super Benefit concert, featuring local guitarist Mike Shackleford and local folk singers Al Poindexter and Eric Wendorf who he met while playing open-mike events with them. He even asked Stetson music professor Steven Robinson, an internationally acclaimed musician he once saw in concert.

Howard asked if Robinson had any students who could play at the event. "So he said, how about if I come, so I was really thrilled. He can play everything great."

Howard says he has gotten to know Orly much better after approaching her with this idea.

"She was really thrilled and thankful. She is always smiling. Even when we visited her a couple of days after, she was just smiling, we visited her in the hospital, she had so much medical stuff in her legs, and she was just smiling."

Howard is impressed with her strength and resilience and amazed at her progress when he visited with her earlier this week. "She is already walking now, she is already walking. She wasn't in her wheelchair, walking, answered the door and said 'Hi, how are you doing?'"

The concert will be on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Jacksonville Jewish Center where he attends, with it's 700 seat auditorium for the concert. He is asking for a $20 minimum donation for tickets. He says it is a super benefit for a super person. Howard says the money raised will help her with medical expenses and college expenses.  He has also set up a website where people can buy tickets.

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