African Well Fund board member Abbey Fisher recently attended the 2nd U2 Academic Conference in Cleveland. She shares her experience with us below.
This past weekend, a group of African Well Fund volunteers
and board members were fortunate to attend the 2nd U2 Academic
Conference in Cleveland. We hosted
an information table, with the hopes of meeting old and new friends, raising
funds for the 11th Bono Birthday Well, and promoting our work to a
unique audience – those who are fans of U2 and who have studied their impact on
society and on all of us. I had
the pleasure of creating our table display, and because I’m newer to AWF, it
was a treat to look through information about the previous fundraisers, and see
the growth of this great organization.
Ten years on, U2 fans have donated over $223,000 for the birthday wells,
and made a difference in the lives of over 56,000 Africans – amazing!
When I was thinking of what to write about for this post, I
asked my fellow AWFers what their impressions were. We felt that there were two themes expressed throughout the
weekend: Community and Gratitude.
We were among people who shared our concerns for the people of Africa,
Sarajevo, Burma; anywhere people struggle to survive. And while we all got a few funny looks from friends when we
told them where we were going for the weekend, this community of people really got
Our outreach has grown throughout the years, but U2 fans are the group
that has overwhelmingly supported AWF since its inception. These are our people.
We are incredibly grateful for Scott Calhoun, the conference
organizer, who worked so hard to make the event happen, and for going above and beyond in making sure we were
featured prominently at two special events.
Diane Yoder & Rob Trigalet with ‘Meet Me in the Sound’ director Natalie Baker.
First was a screening of Natalie Baker’s beautiful and
moving film about the fan experience, Meet Me In The Sound. When
AWF’s chair, Rob Trigalet, spoke in the film about the organization’s origin,
we heard several audience members say, “I didn’t know that!”
We are grateful for the opportunity to
illustrate the power of music to inspire – thank you Natalie!
On Saturday night, Unforgettable Fire,
the world’s longest-running U2 tribute band, played a great show at the
Cleveland Hard Rock Café. The Hard Rock donated a portion of each ticket price to
AWF! Both events helped us raise
several hundred dollars and get the 2013 Birthday Well fundraiser off to a
We are also thankful to all of the presenters and conference
participants – especially those who stopped by the table to say hi – for the
stimulating conversation and encouragement. Nearly everyone we talked to expressed gratitude for U2’s
impact in our lives, and for AWF’s work.
We heard over and over again that we really do have the power to change
the world, and that no other band could have brought together such a dedicated
and passionate group of fans to make a difference. Who knew that AWF’s humble beginnings as a small group of
fans who were inspired by Bono’s work, and who were just “trying to do a damn
thing” about the seemingly huge problems in our world, could itself be an
inspiration for others?
Abbey Fisher & Bill Carter
My personal favorite session was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
featuring Bill Carter, who brought Sarajevo to the world during the
height of the siege in the early 1990s, with live video feeds during
U2’s ZooTV tour. Bill spoke about the power of U2 to reach a wide
audience, and how their popularity brought attention to the suffering of
those living in Sarajevo at the time. Bill signed his book, “Fools
Rush In,” and the DVD of his “Miss Sarajevo” film, which we’ll be
auctioning during the Got Water? auction this fall. He could not have
been more kind, and said he follows our work and would love to help us
in any way he can. Thank you, Bill, for your generosity!
I came home tired but really energized and hopeful about the
future. See you at the next