by Meg Huber
October may be over, but keep your Halloween spirit up for one more fright-filled, zombie-infested event. The Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania will be throwing its first-ever Zombie Rally on November 10th at the Hollywood Theater to raise money and awareness in support of those suffering the “horrors of lupus.”
The night begins at 7pm with music by DJ Zombo (Michael Devine) followed by the movie The Resurrection Game written and produced by local filmmakers, Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt. At least eight vendors will be selling zombie books, comics, movies, and knick-knacks from zombie shows such as The Walking Dead. The Foundation will also hold an auction and a 50/50 raffle, all in keeping with the undead theme.
Guests are encouraged to come dressed as flesh-eating walkers. Judges will give prizes for the best, most creative costumes. Admission for the event is a $10 donation, which will go to the Lupus Foundation.
“The money will mainly be used for [lupus] patient services, support, and education. It’s a very good cause and we’re really just hoping for more awareness,” said Gerry Tonti, member of the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania and organizer of the Rally.
Tonti said he, Best, and Watt have been talking about throwing this event for years and it finally all came together.
“The local filmmakers wanted to help raise money for lupus and thought it would be a great idea for everyone. Pittsburgh’s big on zombies so we wanted to make it a zombie event…and I’ve always loved Halloween and horror movies,” said Tonti.
Tonti’s wife, Shelly, has lupus, which motivated him to get involved in the Lupus Foundation’s events. In addition to the Rally, he was also part of the local zombie walk, which was deemed to be the biggest zombie walks in the country, as well as the Halloween Oldies Dances.
Devine also felt compelled to participate in the Zombie Rally because of his friendship with Tonti, providing the music for various lupus awareness events in the area. He said it will be a fun, light-hearted event with all kinds of Halloween and zombie music, some even dating back to the 1950’s.
“My Halloween collection is pretty amazing. The number of zombie songs I have is just astounding. It’ll be everything from that genre—zombie music, songs about zombies, even a group called the Zombeatles, which is based on the original Beatles songs,” said Devine.
Devine said that it’s important for people with lupus to stay positive and build awareness.
“People handle the ailment in different ways but the people I know are really activists about it. Letting people know about it brings it to the forefront,” he said.
Shelly Tonti said half the battle of lupus is just being diagnosed with it, since it is difficult to identify. Once diagnosed, doctors can help patients to stay in control of the disease to allow them to live a normal life.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system is overactive and attacks the good cells in the body. It manifests itself differently in everyone affected by it and no individual has the same experience or the same treatment. The disease flares up due to triggers like stress, fatigue, and sunlight, but it is a mystery as to why it comes and goes. Research is currently in progress, and recently doctors produced the first medication in 50 years that is specifically for lupus. The hope is to someday find a cure for this debilitating disease.
As for the Zombie Rally, Gerry Tonti is optimistic and excited.
“The movie is very good. Mike [Devine] is fantastic with the music. He’s got a big following here in Pittsburgh. With the music, the entertainment—there’s going to be something for everybody,” Gerry said.
For more information about the rally, visit the Zombie Rally’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/388107914593859/
For more information about lupus visit The Lupus Foundation of America: http://www.lupus.org/newsite/index.html