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Connor Barwin Raises $170K For Philly Park

Posted Jun 26, 2014

The City of Philadelphia became a better place thanks to linebacker Connor Barwin and his Make The World Better (MTWB) Foundation. Last Friday, Barwin hosted a benefit concert at Union Transfer to raise money for the Ralph Brooks revitalization project, a South Philly park located at 20th and Tasker Streets, in need of a transformation. In a truly collaborative effort which brought together athletes, musical artists, public officials and fans, the benefit concert raised $85,000. That sum will be matched by Barwin’s MTWB Foundation for a grand total of $170,000.

The concert was headlined by Philadelphia’s own, Kurt Vile and The Violators, with additional performances by The Tontons and The Districts.

“We greatly surpassed our initial goals, and I am humbled by all of the support we received,” said Barwin. “We proved that this community can do special things when we all work together. It’s remarkable to think that an entertaining night like this will ultimately help to restore one of our city’s most beloved parks.”

With the help of JDT International president Jeffrey Tubbs, Point Breeze resident Jahmall Crandall and the Urban Roots Foundation, project boards were displayed around the venue depicting the park’s makeover. The upgrades will include a new "Rucker certified" basketball court, an urban farm, a tot-lot and much more.

Fans mingled with Eagles players, musicians and politicians at the meet-and-greet before the concert. State Representative Jordan Harris, Deputy Mayor Richard Negrin and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, along with Eagles DeMeco Ryans, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce, Mark Sanchez, Todd Herremans, Travis Long, Marcus Smith, Riley Cooper and others chatted with fans and took pictures.

The night began with Barwin thanking the sold-out crowd for coming out to what ended up being an unforgettable evening of music. He thanked Sean Agnew and the Union Transfer staff for donating the venue and bar tab, Steve Powers for providing the artwork and all the musicians who were kind enough to play the show for free.

"I had a great time raising money for such an amazing cause,” said Agnew. “It was an honor to have Connor, Kurt, The Districts, The Tontons and all of the partners of Union Transfer come together for one common goal. It worked out so well, that I think we’ll have to do another one down the line.”

First on the bill were Barwin's old friends from Houston, The Tontons. Sultry lead singer Asli Omar and the band captivated the crowd with their smooth, jazzy brand of soulful indie rock. The band played many songs off their new album, the very aptly titled "Make Out Kings and Other Stories of Love."

Next up was The Districts, a foursome from Lancaster, Pa. The audience hung on every word from lead singer Robby Grote as they tore through the set with a fiery energy. Judging by the audience’s response, the young rockers seem to have quite a career ahead of them.

Headlining the show was Philadelphia's reigning rock icon, Kurt Vile. Opening with the title track of his 2013 critically acclaimed album "Wakin on a Pretty Daze," Vile wasted no time showcasing his renowned guitar finger-picking on what might be one of the best nine-minute songs in music today. The capacity crowd rocked along as backing band, The Violators, blasted through fan favorites "Freak Train" and "Jesus Fever." Vile and the band left the stage to a thunderous applause and chants of "Encore." Vile did not disappoint as he and the band came back on stage to show off a surprise gift from Barwin: personalized Eagles jerseys for the whole band. It was quite a sight to see the longhaired rocker sporting Barwin’s No. 98 jersey.

“It was a real thrill to be able to give back to the city that has given so much to Kurt and the Violators,” said Rennie Jaffe, manager of Kurt Vile and The Violators. “To team up with Connor and his Make The World Better Foundation for such an amazing cause goes to show that music really does have the power to bring an entire community together. Everyone who came out on Friday night saw that right in front of their eyes and ears.”

Barwin has said that he started the MTWB Foundation as a way to bring together the artistic and athletic communities in Philadelphia in order to spark positive change in the city. With $170,000 raised on Friday, it's safe to say he's off to a pretty good start.

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