Donnie Wahlberg raises over 750k for Generation Rescue at Special Event

by: Peter Ferreri

The "RIGHT STUFF" is a term often associated with the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) as their 1988 hit is arguably their biggest. The simple verses, catchy pop vocals and dancing has stayed in pop culture lore some 30 years later. As each of the members embarked on many endeavors over that time span, one new kid truly shows he has the right stuff as he held a benefit concert to raise $759k to Help Kids with Autism For Generation Rescue along with his wife Jenny McCarthy. It is reported that funds raised at this year's event will be allocated to build integrative health clinics in Missouri and Illinois.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

I had the pleasure of attending the red carpet along with the concert itself at the historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL. The New Kids were just in the Chicagoland Area on their Total Package tour along with Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul. From the expectations of last year years One Night with Donnie Wahlberg, this year's Another Evening with Donnie Wahlberg & Special Guests exceeded last year's show both in monetary gain for Generation Rescue, but also that of excitement and enjoyment of the crowd. One crowd member spoke to me while waiting for the red carpet to begin and stated she drove from the northern part of Atlanta to see this show. I had other people sitting around me at the venue stating this is a "small sample" of what the excitement is on the NKOTB cruises. 

On the red carpet, members of Naughty by Nature shared how excited they were to be part of this show, as they had a cousin who has Autism (see video from our EDGE Facebook LIVE below to see interview or click here). After seeing the walk the red carpet, I knew they were to take the stage as surprise guests later.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

Jenny McCarthy met the media and thanked all for being there and explained about the cause and what it meant to her. Jenny opened the show with an emotional speech, what was in store and what it meant to have her husband Donnie embrace her and her family since their marriage. She then introduced her husband to an electric applause as the show was to begin.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

Donnie started with some kind words and a newer song Thankful from the NKOTB new EP. The crowd's excitement hit a peak as he followed the song with Remix with fellow New Kid Joey McIntyre. After the excitement of one New Kid, at other points of the night both Jordan Knight and Danny Wood joined in the fun to sing either solo songs, or classics such as Jackson 5's I'll Be There (a staple of New Kids concerts in the late 80's). Donnie jumped to the middle of the crowd to share how much this event meant not only to him, but his wife, in a tearful speech while she smiled from the balcony. One could hear many fans saying aloud "Oh, he's crying," as to which he wasn't afraid to share his emotions. He also displayed a check to the crowd in reference to his personal donation.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

A youth choir (Chicago Children's Choir) joined to be background for a handful of songs intermittently throughout the evening. The momentum built as Naughty by Nature hit the stage to perform hits such as O.P.P. and Hip Hop Hooray. They shared a moment with Donnie on their encounters with Autism and had the whole crowd on their feet. 

A highlight of the evening was Donnie stated he wanted to perform his favorite NKOTB song which he recorded all of 30 years ago, I Need You off their Hangin' Tough Album. He admitted his voice was tired because of the lengthy tour, but it wasn't much needed when he had the crowd sing along to Cover Girl

In another exciting twist, two members of Boyz II Men appeared on stage and sang along with NKOTB to One Sweet Day as the fans sang the Mariah Carey parts of the song. The energy reached a crescendo when all performers hit stage singing Motown Philly.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

Other select New Kids songs performed were Dirty Dancing and One Song off THE BLOCK album. You knew the ending was going to be a high point as once again all performers singing a medley of The Right Stuff / Hangin' Tough. The crowd went to a frenzy as confetti canons exploded and all waved along to the New Kids classics. 

Fans in the crowd knew the show was over but still chanted for one more song, and even though it never came, everyone left feeling like they just left a 1991 summer concert at the Rosemont Horizon.  Having experienced large arena shows for NKOTB, it was cool to experience this smaller setting for a change.  After seeing both Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight perform solo at the House of Blues in Chicago and this was close to that in terms of size.   Almost like being in the crowd of the 1989 VHS of Hangin' Tough Live!  Now that would be a dream.  I’ve actually had the crazy opportunity to perform twice with Jordan in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska about 10 years ago, but that is a blog post for another day.

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

Although the size has been pared down, the message is bigger and obviously more meaningful to Donnie and his family. 20 years ago it was to entertain millions of fans, now he uses his celebrity to help those in need. I encourage people to stop by the Generation Rescue website to get more information and make a donation to a great cause. #DWxGR2017

Photo by Brian Babineau - courtesy of Generation Rescue

 

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