BURLINGTON and NEWBURYPORT, Mass., July 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Two months ago, Newburyport High School sophomore Jared Bedard heard that pop star Justin Bieber had pledged to meet the person who raised the most money to help cure a rare childhood tumor.
Bedard, 16, considers himself the teen star's biggest fan, and he shares more than just the same initials with Bieber. Like Bieber, Bedard isn't afraid to dream big.
In late May, Bedard, who has Down syndrome, began performing with guitar in hand at the local "Orange Leaf" restaurant Newburyport. In early June, he moved on to the local "Not Your Average Joe's" and "Port Tavern" restaurants, with each of the establishments agreeing to give a percentage of their day's proceeds to Jared's cause.
"Not Your Average Joe's was blown away that night by the people that were there," Jared's mom, Karen, told the Newburyport News. "The manager told me he has never seen a fundraiser like this. It was pouring rain and he had sent the bartender home. He figured no one was going to be coming in that night and, on Tuesday nights, no one comes in anyway. Then, he couldn't believe it and the Port Tavern was the same way. Pretty much everyone who is in there was in there for Jared."
In fact, Karen Bedard said that the bulk of the funds her son raised were not from the restaurant proceeds, but from direct donations to his cause and the associated raffles. All told, Bedard raised more than $7,000 for atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) before the July 1 deadline. (Bieber took up the cause of AT/RT after another huge fan, 6-year-old Avalanna Routh of Merrimac, died from it last year.)
In addition to AT/RT, the Bedards have supported the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress for years. "Jared is a young man who exemplifies how people with Down syndrome can contribute to the community in so many ways," said Maureen Gallagher, Executive Director of the MDSC. "We are so proud of his accomplishments and are thrilled that Justin Bieber plans to personally meet with Jared to recognize his efforts."
Jared's father has played hockey with the MDSC All Stars during their annual grudge match against the Boston Bruins Alumni team, and the family has participated in the MDSC's Annual Buddy Walk & Family Festival. They will again raise funds for the 17th Annual Buddy Walk, which is being held Oct. 13 in Wakefield, Mass.
"He deserves it, he worked hard," Karen Bedard said of his accomplishment. "When I told Jared he was going to meet Justin Bieber, his response was, 'I know that.'"
Bieber will be perfoming in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden on July 20. The Bedards plan to the use a $250 stipend from the Bieber camp pay for a car service and stay in a Boston-area hotel. "Just so he doesn't feel like we're going down there in my car," Karen Bedard said. "You know, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle."
Before they take their seats, Bedard and his mom will get to hang out with Bieber as he gets ready to go onstage before tens of thousands of adoring fans.
"I feel blessed," said Karen Bedard. "I am totally amazed by all the love and support that Jared has had throughout this whole thing. Everybody that knows Jared knows his love for Justin Bieber and his love for music."
About the MDSC
Founded in 1983, the MDSC today has over 3,000 members, an energetic Board of Directors, a dynamic management team, and a vision to ensure that every person with Down syndrome has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. As we have over the past nearly three decades, the MDSC continues to ensure that all individuals in Massachusetts with Down syndrome are valued, included, and given every opportunity to pursue fulfilling lives.
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MDSC Executive Director Maureen Gallagher, 781-221-0024 Director of Communications Joshua Komyerov 781-221-0024