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Students, musicians show support for Keeseville man

KEESEVILLE A group of students at AuSable Valley Central School have planned a fundraiser concert honoring a beloved figure in the school community. Keeseville resident Doug Knight was an advisor for the AVCS Ski Club for seven years, and will be headlining a Nov. 8 event featuring several local musicians to benefit a special cause. Knight, a bus driver for AVCS for more than 20 years and a member of local bluegrass trio Three Doug Knight, was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called Lou Gehrigs Disease. Dougs a huge role model for all the students at AVCS, said AVCS teacher Chris Fey, the current advisor for the Ski Club. Over 50 students are involved in the club throughout the year, and acted quickly when they learned of Knights diagnosis. My students in the Ski Club came to me immediately and asked me if we could do something for Doug, said Fey. The degenerative neurological disease attacks nerve cells, causing weakness and paralysis of voluntary muscles. In the vast majority of cases, it is terminal, with an average lifespan of two to five years following diagnosis. Options for effective treatment are very limited. Inclination for ALS can be passed on genetically. Knight explained that his father, grandmother, and two uncles all died from the disease. Knight said he first noticed symptoms while hiking in July 2007. One doctors examination ruled out ALS, but an eventual second opinion would confirm Knights suspicions. Since then, the disease has claimed the use of his left leg, and weakness in his fingers has made playing banjo and guitar problematic. As a result, his band is no longer taking bookings, and he recently retired from bus driving to focus on getting better. Im very optimistic, said Knight. Ive had a great life and Ive got nothing to complain about. In addition to his own band, the concert features several musicians who Knight has befriended over the years. Blues guitarist Joan Crane, country-folk trio Bear Tracks, the Too Tall String Band, harpist Martha Gallagher, and acoustic group Crossing North all signed on to help out. Eric Gibson of the widely popular Gibson Brothers will perform, as well as Skip Smithson, Jeff Rendanaro, and Steve Light. Such willing support from his fellow musicians has left Knight feeling touched. Its a gift, he said. It gives you a reason to hope. Knight insisted that he didnt have a lot of need personally, but that hes pleased to raise money for ALS research and for the Ski Club. The concert is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the AVCS auditorium. There is no admission, but a donation of $10 is suggested.

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