As most of you know, the drum & bugle corps activity has a rich heritage in Wisconsin, with marching units scattered throughout the State. With thousands of young adults in the activity, dating and serious relationships among drum corps alumni are not uncommon – in many cases leading to marriage. This was the case for Madison residents John Weekes and Cristin McKenna, who were marching members from two different drum and bugle corps. They married in 2006 and are now proud parents of sons Michael and Matthew Weekes. John and Cristin’s union was typical in many ways. However, they shared an especially unique bond – each had tragically lost a close family member to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

John lost his brother Steve Weekes in 2005 at the age of 44, and Cristin lost her father, Mike McKenna, in 2001 at the age of 53.

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a degenerative neuromuscular disease with no cure and an average life expectancy of only 3-5 years.  It can strike anyone and is sometimes genetically inherited.

Family Roots in Wisconsin Drum & Bugle Corps

The McKenna and Weekes families are passionate supporters of the drum and bugle corps activity, and their involvement dates back many years. The families were highly involved with the Madison Scouts Junior and Senior Corps, the Appleton Americanos, and the Capitol Sound. Mike McKenna began as a marching member of the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps in 1964. He served afterward in various volunteer roles, including on the Board of Directors.

The Weekes brothers – Karl, Steve, and John – joined the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps in the early 80s and 90s. Steve went on to join the drum staff for the Madison Scouts, including the 1988 championship year. Meanwhile, the McKenna siblings, Cristin and Kelley, marched in the Appleton Americanos, while Joe and Tom marched in the Madison Scouts Junior Corps.

John Weekes and Cristin McKenna met in 1996 because of their family’s dedication to the drum and bugle corps activity. And not long after Mike McKenna’s diagnosis in 1998 and Steve Weekes’ diagnosis in 1999, John and Cristin had their first date. In the following years, their relationship blossomed; however, in a heartbreaking twist, neither Mike McKenna nor Steve Weekes would live long enough to celebrate their union.

rock4cure als benefitALS Disease Finds Advocate in Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps

After diagnosis, Steve Weekes wasted no time becoming an advocate for ALS. As he waited for treatment in the ALS clinic with his siblings, Monica and John Weekes, Steve resolved to create a Live Music Fundraiser for ALS. Steve was the drummer for the Wall of Sound, a powerful brass-intense ensemble that eagerly volunteered to headline the event. In 2000, the first annual Rockin For A Cure ALS benefit kicked off with the help of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps.

supermanmissionWith the support of Corps Director Scott Stewart, Madison Scouts, and devoted alumni members, Steve Weekes & Mike McKenna quickly found themselves surrounded by a passionate bedrock of support. The impact of Rockin' For A Cure was tremendous, resulting in regular performances by marching members, alumni performances, including the 2006 Madison Scouts Alumni Reunion Project, and several bands with Scouts alumni also performed over the years. However, the thing that’s remained a constant is the gathering of Madison alumni each year to sing the signature rallying song for the Corps, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Not long after Steve’s death, ALS struck again in 2010, when Madison Scouts alumnus Charles Eikel became Madison Scouts' 3rd victim of the disease. Chuck Eikel marched in the 1950s Madison Scouts and later became a member of the Board of Directors. Chuck, Steve, and Mike's information can be found at Rockin4ALS.org on the Honor Guard Page. “As you look at these three alums, it’s clear that ALS continues its tragic record of taking some of the best from us.”

als associationThe ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter

In 2010, Rockin’ For A Cure partnered with the ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter, Wisconsin's premier flagship of ALS support for research and patient services. The partnership immediately elevated our organization and strengthened our resolve. At Rockin’ For A Cure 2013 and 2015, ALS Association Patient Advocate Jim Eutizzi gave a tearful, hopeful, and inspiring speech. Jim was close to our hearts, and in 2016, we were crushed when ALS took his life.

rockin4alsIn 2017, Rockin For A Cure became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization named Rockin4ALS, Inc., and today continues the battle for Jim, Steve, Mike, and Chuck, along with the thousands of patients currently fighting this disease. “It’s why we do what we do,” says Kelley (McKenna) Lawrenz, VP of Patient & Caregiver Outreach on the Rockin4ALS Board of Directors. Now in its 20th year, Rockin’ For A Cure has raised more than $135,000 for ALS. This funding provides necessary assistive services and equipment for patients in Wisconsin. In addition, Rockin4ALS Board members volunteer at eight other ALS functions every year.

Don’t miss this year’s event on April 29th at the Double Tree by Hilton Madison East. Live music includes performances from Kevin Lucas, The Red Door Duo, The Wall of Sound, and the Madison Scouts All-Star Brass Ensemble, directed by Scott Stewart. These three groups, more than 60 musicians, will donate their performances to entertain you and inspire you to give, give, and give in honor of those we’ve lost and the courageous patients currently battling ALS. You can bid on over 75 silent auction items and enjoy appetizers and a cash bar. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $50 at the door or $40 in advance. Please go to Rockin4ALS.org for more information and to purchase tickets.

Download the 2023 Rockin' for a Cure Program to get all the details.

rock4cure als benefitContact Information
Rockin4ALS, Inc
Director: Mike Anello
www.Rockin4ALS.org
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

msscoutsMadison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps
Executive Director: Chris Komnick
www.madisonscouts.org

 

als associationALS Association Wisconsin Chapter
Executive Director: Melanie Roach Bekos
www.alsawi.org

Future Events

11 Jun
MSAA Monthly Meeting
Date Jun 11, 2023 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

These meetings are open to all alumni of the Madison Scouts. It is held via Zoom once each month typically the third Sunday each month starting at 7 PM Central. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to receive a Zoom invitation to attend any meeting. We welcome all alumni to join us.

1 Jul
Drums on Parade Tailgate
Jul 1, 2023 3:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Hosted at the park located west side of the Middleton PAC, on 7400 Lee St.
DOP show tickets information is available here.

Join MSAA today!

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