Folks of the Dayton Music Festival

By Chuck Manker

A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton Chapter (ASW) since 2000, can identify with the children who receive wishes granted by the organization. He was born with cerebral palsy that affected the left side of his body.

Having the neurological disorder influenced how he would help other people in the future, including organizing charity fundraisers such as the Folks of Dayton Music Festival on Sept. 12 at the Polish Club, 3690 Needmore Road in Dayton.

“I’ve always felt lucky; I could have been a lot worse off so I’ve always been a giver instead of a taker,” Babb said about the effects of cerebral palsy on him. “I was always involved in charity events when I was little or wherever I worked. Then one day I decided I needed to have my own event.”

Babb’s support for A Special Wish Foundation began sixteen years ago when he founded the Fajita Fest that took place at the Polish Club through 2011. The Fest featured all the Texas-style fajitas you could eat along with games, music, clowns, drawings, car shows, sweet corn and more.

By coincidence, the first wish child who benefited through the funds Fajita Fest raised for ASW also had cerebral palsy. No one at ASW knew Babb was born with the disorder.

“That sparked a lot of energy. When that came together, that’s when I knew we were not going to have just one event. It was just meant to happen,” said Babb, who also is a former member of the A Special Wish board of directors.

After twelve Fajita Fests, the event ran just its course, Babb said, but he wasn’t finished raising funds for ASW. The Folks of Dayton Music Festival was born in 2012 and brings together folk/rock music acts, food and family fun. The food this year will include Polish sausage, pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, candy and soft drinks. Attendees 21 and older can bring their own adult beverages. There will be a family-friendly, alcohol-free zone, Babb said.

“It’s a nice, laid-back day in the park at the Polish Club to listen to some really good live music and give back to a cause. It’s the same type of thing that people attend all the time at other places,” Babb said. “The lineup this year is very, very talented.”

That lineup includes songwriter/singer Jayne Sachs and her band, Higgins-Madewell along with British fiddler Tom Leary, Blue Moon Soup from Yellow Springs, and Oakwood native (now living in Los Angeles) Zach Smith and Fernando Rivera. You can find more information about the event at Facebook/FolksofDaytonMusicFestival.

Babb finds the bands each year and books them himself. In addition to his regular job of airline security consulting for a national firm, Babb is the booking agent for Higgins-Madewell, the local duo of Erin Higgins and Jeff Madewell, that formed in 2006 and has earned the Active Dayton Best Band award three consecutive years.

The Polish Club gates open at noon on Saturday, September 12th, and the first band goes on at 2 p.m. Festivities continue until about 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per person, with children 12 and under admitted free. Attendees can bring their own chairs.

Babb said the Fajita Fest group decided early on to donate funds to ASW. “I wanted to direct my energies and what I could raise to something that helped kids. I was in the hospital a lot as a kid (with cerebral palsy), and knowing that there could have been something like A Special Wish there for me would have been important,” Babb said.

Linda Fisher, the Fajita Fest secretary at the time, found ASW and the group decided to donate funds to the wish-granting organization. Between Fajita Fest and the Folks of Dayton Music Festival, more than $70,000 has been donated to ASW.

“We’ve talked to Wish families, and it’s been wonderful — knowing they had a good time at our events and how appreciative they were that we were doing the events for their child,” Babb said. “It’s what kept us coming back and wanting to do it.”

Babb counts creating a sense of community and bringing people together for a good cause among his greatest satisfactions. “We’re showing you can take something simple that they normally do anyway — listen to live music — and get them all together for a beautiful day in a park to give back.” That’s the Folks of Dayton Music Festival at the Polish Club. You can find more information about the event on Facebook at the Folks of Dayton Music Festival page.

Since 1983, A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton Chapter has granted more than 1,600 wishes to children and adolescents from birth through 20 years of age in Montgomery, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Greene and Shelby counties who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Go to if you would like to volunteer or contribute in other ways.

Chuck Manker is a member of the board of directors of A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton Chapter.