Anyone who was near the Rustic Theatre last Friday night knows there were big doings in town. The fire truck outside flying the big American flag set the tone for the afternoon and evening events all in the honor of 12-year-old James Bachmann and his fight against brain cancer.
There was something for all ages. The clown made balloon animals. Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog, Mayor Max and staff, a singer and three comedians livened up the party. Best, of all James was able to be there to greet his 195 guests while they enjoyed beverages and goodies from the candy counter.
Four tables were loaded with donated silent auction items, many going for high-ticketed prices. Some lucky person bid and won a dinner for six people at Tommy’s Restaurant. The owners are James’ parents, Tommy and Kristin Bachmann. Stevie Davis, aka Capt. Sparrow, is one of the chefs at Tommy’s Restaurant who will be cooking the dinner. He also bid $675 and got San Diego Padre tickets.
According to the bartender, John Roland, the bar made $1,700, and folk were giving him checks all evening. The promoters of this amazing benefit, Myla Davis and Cheryl Vladika, have reported receiving more than $10,000 for James’ fund. People are still donating to the BBVA bank account 6731595850, which will remain open.
James, who studied ventriloquism for several years, had planned to perform a show with his friend Levi Davis who became a ventriloquist after meeting James. Unfortunately, James and his mother left early as he was feeling the effects of chemotherapy. His mother texted, “James feels so badly that he is letting everyone down and thanks them for a wonderful party.”
In honor of his friend, 10-year-old Levi went on without him. The emcee for the show, Doug Austin, remarked that Levi was an amazing showman for his age.
Cheryl and Myla took the stage to thank numerous people who volunteered or donated. A special thanks went to Shane and Ashley Stewart for the use of the Rustic Theatre, Idyllwild Fire Department for all its assistance, Frank and Lori Ferro for their generous donation of alcoholic beverages, and Ed Cha for filming, documenting and editing the entire event. Also included in the accolades were: Chris Davis, REPS, Michael Vladika, Lynnda Hart and many others.
The grand finale was the “Nae, Nae Dance” choreographed by A.J. McKay and included most of the folk who were instrumental in putting on the gala, including fire personnel, Smokey, Sparky and many kids.
When asked on Sunday what she thought of the event, Kristin, James’ mother, answered with emotion, “It is overwhelming. I have never been in such a wonderful place.”
While living in Huntington Beach they had heard Idyllwild had a restaurant for sale from some friends. They came up here once and loved it. “It felt right,” she said. The Bachmanns have lived here since May 2014.
She said James was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 8. He underwent an operation and chemotherapy. He was in remission for two-and-a-half years and then last February, two days after his 12th birthday, he was diagnosed once again with the same thing, and is going through another two years of treatment. To keep up with James, visit his Facebook page: James Bachmann Community.
Myla, summing up her feelings about the town and the event, said, “My hope is this day was not about the gifts donated but about making new friendships, strengthening current ones, rekindling old ones, the gift of seeing one’s strengths in the face of adversity, building of hope, and lifting up and carrying of one’s burdens when you cannot do it yourself — to know that one person, one family, is not alone and that there are still villages where this exists.”