Only months after suffering a paralyzing spinal cord injury in January 2011, James “Woody” Beckham devoted his time to helping others like him to rebuild a life in a wheelchair. The Woody Foundation was his outlet.
The foundation has grown to support local organizations with donations and resources, and its largest triumph has been Woodystock, a benefit concert held for the first time in September 2013.
“It was the best day of my life,” said Beckham on last year’s concert. “Last year, Cris Cab was our headliner, and now he’s opening up for Pharrell.”
Cris Cab is a singer-songwriter mostly known for his international hit Liar Liar. Pharrell Williams, a singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, musician and fashion designer, returned back into the spotlight recently with his record-breaking song Happy, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and Best Male Video and Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.
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This year, the annual Woodystock will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Peacock Park in Coconut Grove.
The preparations for this year’s Woodystock started in January.
Whitney Lykins the co-founder of the Black Key Group, a music marketing company based in Miami that scouted performers for Woodystock, said that almost 2,000 people attended last year. She is expecting even more this time.
“At first, we planned for a capacity of 400 people, but we ended up planning for more and were surprised with such a huge crowd,” Lykins said.
This year’s headlining performer will be Fourth Dimension, a South Florida based reggae band. When the gates open at 2 p.m., along with a DJ set by Brett Beats Bailey, Fritz & Franz Bierhaus will have beer garden setup throughout the festival.
Since 2011, apart from Woodystock, the foundation organizes three separate signature events: The Lionfish Bash, The Woody Golf Classic and Lobsterfest. The proceeds of each event go to a specific organization, each working to cure paralysis.
The 2011 Lionfish Bash was the foundation’s first event.
Since then, the foundation has raised more than $80,000, all proceeds going to Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, the place where Beckham recovered after his injury in 2011.
Jackson’s Rehabilitation Hospital is a part of the Jackson Health System.
Beckham and the idea for the Woody Foundation began in that hospital in the recovery room.
He was going to rehab six times a week and had to relearn everyday tasks. Beckham’s spirits were low, but Elvis Anderson, a family friend and foundation volunteer, said he wasn’t surprised Beckham was thinking of helping others during a testing time.
“He’s an upbeat, positive person,” said Anderson, 35. “Instead of dwelling on the negative, I think he took this as an opportunity to help others.”
After leaving the hospital one month after his accident, Beckham and his father, Bill Beckham, put their heads together to form what would become the Woody Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
The foundation raises money to fund the recovery and cure of paralysis.
“It is possible for people to get better,” said Beckham, who wants to give others hope and not let the accident define the rest of his life. “I’ve seen myself come a long way personally, and I just want to share that hope and freedom.”
Today, Beckham is enrolled at Florida International University, he drives an adapted 2013 Dodge Minivan and regularly attends football games at the University of Miami.
There will be a wheelchair-accessible tent at the festival, and for those looking to donate to the Woody Foundation will be able to do so through donations bins. Proceeds from shirt, hat, and accessory stands will also go to the foundation.
If you go
What: Woodystock – Benefit Music Festival
When: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. on September 27, 2014
Where: Peacock Park 2820 McFarlane Road in Coconut Grove
Cost: Free. Donations are welcomed.
For more information: www.thewoodyfoundation.org.