By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
Arts & Entertainment Assistant
Zombie apocalypses and religious organizations are not usually associated with each other. But on Friday Oct. 24, fans wearing “The Walking Dead” apparel filled the pews of Trinity Methodist Church in Ewing to watch star Emily Kinney, who plays Beth on the series, join other performers for a charity.
“I saw someone with a ‘We know where Beth is’ sign. It’s a secret I’m here tonight,” Kinney said to the audience, joking about her “Walking Dead” character. “Don’t tell anyone.”
Kinney’s presence was no secret though, and her appearance was far more than for publicity. The concert was the last show of 2014 for Eric Miller’s Candlelight Concert series that has been spreading epilepsy awareness since 2011. Miller, a Ewing resident, started the series in his living room as a memorial for his wife Carolina who died of an epilepsy attack in 2011.
“The first show was a memorial for my wife, but then I wanted to continue doing them for a greater purpose,” Miller said. “I wanted to raise awareness. I did the first 30 shows in ten months, all in my living room. I always want to give practical information out when I can and the performers help me do that.”
Trinity Methodist Church opened its doors to Miller to help expand his concert series. Since then, Miller has organized 50 concerts in 50 states, with each show featuring music and a speaker. The latest concert featured Brittany Gresham, a 17-year-old high school senior, sharing her personal struggle with epilepsy. Diagnosed at age 6, Gresham struggled fitting in. It hard to have sleepovers, and she was a frequent visitor to the nurse’s office. After having her last seizure in 2010, she now enjoys a typical teenage life, including driving around with her friends and applying to college.
“Just know you can do this and it does get better,” Gresham said. “You have to get to the end to see the rainbow.”
Friday’s show included opening act, Rowan student Sofia Nicole, dressed in purple specifically for epilepsy awareness. Nicole has become a standard at the concert series after hearing about it through a Hamilton radio station. The headliners were comprised of Kinney, Chris Barrons of the Spin Doctors and Dan Reed. The name of the series is based on Miller’s late wife’s favorite song, “Candlelight,” an original of Reed, who played at the Miller’s wedding reception.
The three headliners took the stage together sharing anecdotes and working off each other’s energy. Touching on other subjects, such as mental illness, drug addiction and heartache, the performers used their time to be inspiring and genuine to the cause.
“I was really inspired by Eric’s story,” Kinney said. “This was an opportunity to give back, and when I saw who else was performing I really wanted to be apart of it. I got to play with other songwriters, which is really cool. I got to watch a show and be part of it.”
Barrons ended the show with the Spin Doctors’ 1991 hit, “Two Princes” with a standing ovation.
Each of the performers stayed after the show to chat and take pictures with the audience in the lobby where the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey was seated taking donations. The concert series will pick up again in January 2015.