Before cancer claimed the life of PJ Quinn on July 5, 2020, first responders were frequent visitors to the family’s home.
The 29-year-old’s parents, Michael and Bonnie Quinn of Oro Valley, are forever grateful — and wanted to show it.
The Quinns are bringing back the Rockin’ 4 Heroes fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, at James D. Kriegh Park in Oro Valley. The “4” represents the groups of honorees — first responders, active duty, veterans and Gold Star families.
“The last seven months of his life, he was in and out of the hospital on a weekly basis for seizures and other things,” Michael said about his son, who exuded positivity.
“It spread to his brain and his lungs. They took out two lobes in two separate procedures. That was during COVID. He couldn’t have any visitors. He is an amazing young man, and we miss him dearly. The first responders were so kind and generous and loving after he passed. My wife and I wanted to find a way to thank them. I felt a tray of cookies, or a pizza party wouldn’t suffice.”
Then, the Quinns saw the 11-musician Chicago tribute act Leonid and Friends in Glendale and Michael had an epiphany.
“They’re not good,” he said with a slight chuckle. “They’re spectacular. I needed to get them to Tucson somehow. They’re phenomenal musicians. They’re classically trained musicians who started playing rock ‘n’ roll on the side.”
The Moscow-based band, which also performs songs by Earth, Wind and Fire, Steely Dan and Tower of Power, hit the stage for the inaugural event last year in front of about 900 attendees. The performers return for this weekend’s second iteration.
“Everybody in the community came up after that and said, ‘This was wonderful.’ We needed to do it again and thank all of those who serve us selflessly. They have no idea if they’re coming home that night, especially police and fire. The community liked to have a venue that thanked them as well.”
The Quinns insist on offering the event with free admission — and Leonid and Friends agree. The band solicits donations on its website.
HSL Properties is a presenting sponsor, while Dr. Richard Carmona is the honorary chair. The former U.S. surgeon general, Carmona is a combat-decorated Vietnam veteran with over 50 years of service as a first responder.
Michael is a Navy veteran and, he and Barbara are longtime veterans supporters.
“My wife and I have been supportive of veterans organizations, of Gold Star organizations, which help those who have lost children or spouses in defense of our country,” he said.
Born in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, but raised in Tucson, PJ graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School in 2009. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma his junior year, at age 16.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from NAU in 2017. Michael paused before describing the lengths PJ took to obtain his degree.
“Banner and NAU got together and gave him credit for tutoring children at Diamond Children’s Medical Center while he was in chemotherapy,” he said choking up.
“He walked up and got his degree at NAU. The dean made a big deal about him.”
Rockin’ 4 Heroes is a project of the Quinns’ Light Up Lives Charity Foundation.
“This year we anticipate another big turnout in the park for an afternoon of great music, food, drink, and comradery. Admission is free to the public, thanks to the generous support of corporate sponsors like HSL Properties and private donors,” Bonnie said.
“More importantly, it’s a chance to come together as a community to honor our heroes. Based on last year’s strong response we know that many community members really enjoyed the concert and appreciated the opportunity to thank our public servants.”
Net proceeds of this year’s event will go to the Arizona Heroes Memorial being built at Naranja Park in Oro Valley. The memorial will serve to educate citizens about the meaning of service and sacrifice, and to honor what these brave men and women have given to our country.
This festival-style event will feature multiple food trucks, refreshments, beer and wine in the outdoor setting of the Catalina Foothills.
Carmona has served his entire adult life in the public service sector.
“These are individuals who commit their careers to protecting us, and they deserve our gratitude and thanks. I am proud to be part of Rockin’ 4 Heroes,” Carmona said.
“This event is a great opportunity to not only recognize the many first responders, active military and veterans who serve us, but also to pay respect to our Gold Star families whose loved ones gave it all in the line of duty.”
HSL Properties is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Rockin’ 4 Heroes.
“We appreciate and align with their mission of bringing the community together to honor our heroes, and we are proud to be a part of this year’s event,” said Humberto Lopez, founder and CEO.
“Rockin’ 4 Heroes exemplifies our core values: It is truly all about community.”
The mission of Light Up Lives Charity Foundation is to raise awareness and support of various organizations and individuals who work to protect, serve, and care for communities and country. As a local non-profit, Light Up Lives Charity Foundation was specifically established to develop and host special events, programs and drives to recognize and benefit those who diligently serve the community, state or country. They are an all-volunteer organization and 100% of donations support their mission through events like Rockin’ 4 Heroes.
Rockin’ 4 Heroes w/ Leonid and Friends
WHEN: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16
WHERE: James D. Kreigh Park, 23 W. Calle Concordia, Oro Valley
COST: Free admission