Big Fun owner holds dance to benefit friend
On Jan. 23, nearly 200 Heights-area residents and other friends of Jon Lash gathered at the the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland, to dance, party and help a friend in need.
The event, dubbed Benefit for a Buddy, was the work of Big Fun owner Steve Presser, a close friend of Lash since childhood. Each attendee paid at least $10; Presser continues to accept donations at Big Fun on Coventry from supporters who couldn't attend.
Lash, who also lives in Cleveland Heights, suffered neck and spinal damage from complications during a 7-hour heart bypass operation. The injury left him in constant pain and unable to sleep or work, Presser says. Formerly an accomplished athlete, Lash is unable to lift any significant weight, and even walking has become difficult. After losing his job of 13 years, a clerical decision at his former employer also resulted in the loss of disability coverage and, more recently, medical insurance. That's when Presser put together the benefit.
"Today and most days, Jonny lives with what he says on his scale is an average pain-level of eight – off the charts for most of the rest of us," Presser says of Lash. "[He] is a great father to his three kids. He does amazing things with and for them, considering his situation."
Lash has legal representation, but the process by which he hopes to receive disability compensation is expected to take months. In the meantime, proceeds from the benefit will defray living expenses.
The event featured two bands – the Del Rio Bandits and Cats On Holiday, both of which played for free to help the cause. The facility itself was also donated for the evening, as were profits from the bar.
"This is about community," Presser says. "This is about us taking care of one of our own. Jonny is a humble guy. He does not like handouts. He would be working if he could."
The benefit was boisterous and upbeat. Lash attended, spending most of the evening gracefully accepting pats on the back that, given his medical condition, looked as if they were both welcome and uncomfortable.
But his ability to talk about the display of friendship was limited: "This is amazing," he said. "I'm pretty much speechless."
Bob Rosenbaum, who considers both Presser and Lash to be friends, attended the benefit but failed to take a single picture. Donations are still being accepted at Big Fun; checks should be made payable to Jon Lash.