By MATT KOESTERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — Peggy Cundiff knew she had to do something. Something her son couldn’t do.
Her son, William “W.D.” Cundiff, had dreamed of holding a benefit for the Serenity House, a Clarksville-based counseling and support center for addicts of drug and alcohol. The 30-year-old disc jockey had himself struggled with addiction, and had spent more than one stint as a resident of Serenity House.
He wanted to give back to them, his mother said. But he never got his chance. In October, W.D. Cundiff was killed in a car accident.
“When he died, I guess the day after we buried him, I thought, ‘This is the time I need to get busy and work on a benefit for him,” she said.
The first of three benefits, Rock 4 Recovery, will take place Saturday, Feb. 2, at Kye’s and Kye’s II in Jeffersonville. Proceeds from the event, which will honor the memories of W.D. Cundiff and nine other addicts who have died in the past year, will go to Serenity House.
“W.D. was a very giving person with a kind heart, always wanting to help his fellow strugglers,” Cundiff said. “He wanted to help everyone just kick it. We are hoping to carry out Will’s dream in giving back and raising awareness with Rock 4 Recovery.”
As she worked to get the benefit together, Cundiff found kindred spirits in the Denney family. The two families’ paths crossed when Cundiff visited PIP Printing and Marketing Services in Jeffersonville, which the Denneys own, to have some programs made for Rock 4 Recovery.
Alicia Denney-Kane can remember childhood trips to Hilton Head Island with her family. In a more innocent time, she and her brother, B.J. Denney, would walk along the beach, and Denney-Kane would watch as her brother picked up starfish from the sand and tossed them back into the ocean.
“He wanted to save them,” she recalled. “He knew that they couldn’t survive on land, on the beach, and if they got back into the water they would live.”
But later in life, it was B.J. Denney who would keep washing ashore, needing someone to throw him back in the water. He wrote in his journal of demons that had him in their grasp. He couldn’t hold a job, and was sometimes kept away from the rest of his family because of the effects his disease had on his personality.
After struggling with addiction for much of his adult life, B.J. Denney died in April 2012 at 31. Now, the Denney family is assisting with the Rock 4 Recovery benefit to try to stop others from meeting a similar fate.
“I love that we’re helping the Serenity House because the people that go to them, their families are like us,” Denney-Kane said. “They want their sons, their cousins, their brothers, their real friends to get help, and this is someplace that they can actually do it.”
The benefit will feature live music DJ Mike, River Shyne, The Juice Box Heroes and Honkywood. Complimentary appetizers will be provided by local eateries and caterers. Guests will have the opportunity to participate in live and silent auctions, with a piece donated by local artist Guy Tedesco headlining the live auction. Tedesco will personally present the piece to the winning bidder.
Tickets for the Rock 4 Recovery are $25 apiece and can be purchased in the office of the mayor at Jeffersonville City Hall.
The proceeds from the benefit will go toward a building fund for the construction of a Recovery Complex Support Center, said Mick McFarland, Serenity House director. The Recovery Complex will provide meeting space for 12-step programs and other groups for those recovering from addiction and their families.
“Here in Southern Indiana, we need someplace bad,” McFarland said.
The complex will have a large meeting space with room for up to 400 people, while three smaller meeting rooms will be able to accommodate up to 100 visitors at a time, McFarland said.
“Anybody who wants to put such a program in can put one in this building,” he said.
McFarland added that the current meeting space is being lost because of land acquisition for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
The Rock 4 Recovery benefit is the first of three such events. Other events planned include a motorcycle ride called Roll 4 Recovery and a Run 4 Recovery, a foot race.