Kent State Trumbull employee’s unexpected and inspiring passion

Founders+of+Rock4Reason+from+left+to+right%3A+Jennifer+and+Matt+Durno%2C+Frank+and+Heather+Lindsay.

Founders of Rock4Reason from left to right: Jennifer and Matt Durno, Frank and Heather Lindsay.

Rachel Walker

What once started off as a small campaign to help Kent State Relay for Life, Rock4Reason has grown into an established nonprofit supporting cancer patients in the Mahoning Valley through the power of music.

Rock4Reason is a charity which raises money for the American Cancer Society and Hospice of the Valley by hosting fundraising events with local musicians singing live music.

Rock4Reason provides financial and therapeutic support to families impacted by cancer or terminal illness and to the community agencies providing care for those patients.

The co-founders are two couples who have been lifelong friends: Frank and Heather Lindsay and Matt and Jennifer Durno.

“We sat down when the Trumbull campus Relay for Life team was disbanding about eight years ago and said ‘Why don’t we start a nonprofit of our own?’” said Frank Lindsay, the president of Rock4Reason and manager of information technology at Kent State Trumbull.

Rock4Reason started by holding small events for patients and their families. As the events grew, the founders realized there was a larger need to assist Mahoning Valley families struggling with cancer or terminal illnesses.

“While we do raise funds for these families, we also focus on organizing therapeutic events for the patients to come and not worry about going through treatment at that time,” Executive Director Jennifer Durno said. “They all (are) able to come together as a community to share stories with other patients to see how they are coping and getting by.” 

Rock4Reason has held therapeutic events supporting patients over the last eight years. The nonprofit was officially established in July 2016. 

“During one of our events at our local amphitheater, we were able to auction off a 2017 Gibson Les-Paul studio deluxe 4 guitar,” Lindsay said. “We announced the winner the next day through a Facebook live video.”

The winner ended up being an individual from Akron battling leukemia. He had been an avid guitar player before being diagnosed, but after winning this guitar he was inspired to play again.

Cancer affected Lindsay’s family close to home, like it does with so many others. His father lost his life to cancer, which inspired Lindsay to help fight cancer any way he could. A specific defining moment for the founders was in November at the organization’s “Mums and Mimosas” event held at the DeYor Performing Arts Center in Youngstown.

“One of the patients at the event said this was the first time she had left the house without her headscarf since treatment,” Lindsay said. “The room was filled with emotions.”

Rock4Reason has also unintentionally been an advocate for local small businesses.

“Not only do we focus on taking care of families in need, but we also build relationships by working with local small businesses,” said Heather Lindsay, secretary of Rock4Reason. “This has been instrumental to our growth.” 

Sponsors and donors in the Youngstown area have made Rock4Reason’s therapeutic events possible, Lindsay said.

Rock4Reason looks to expand further into Northeast Ohio in the upcoming years.

 Rachel Walker is the Regional Campuses reporter. Contact her at [email protected]