Dr. Yahagi & The Mended Hearts host autism benefit concert
Aug. 14, 2012 at 3:14 a.m.
Updated Aug. 15, 2012 at 3:15 a.m.
Yusuke Yahagi is a surgeon with a heart for helping others. He uses his musical and artistic gifts to raise money for a cause.
On Friday evening, the 53-year-old thoracic surgeon will be hosting a benefit concert for autism with his band, The Mended Hearts, at the Victoria Fine Arts Center.
"We're dedicated to the future in Victoria and our children," Yahagi said.
Yahagi, Donald Tharp and Rick Collie will play a mixture of popular cover songs from The Beatles, Eric Clapton and ZZ Top, as well as some original selections such as, "Be Happy for a Change," and "O.R."
Proceeds will go The Vine School, which offers specialized teaching methods to children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders and related communication disorders.
Last August, the trio raised $10,000 for the victims of the Japan tsunami.
After receiving a positive response from the community to benefit his homeland, Yahagi's goal is to raise $20,000 with the concert, donations and silent auction.
School officials said it's a wonderful feeling to have the support.
"Every little bit helps," said Erin Hatley, the school's executive director.
The private school has 11 students enrolled between the ages of 2 and 10 years old. She also said the cost of the year-round education is up to $12,000.
Hatley said she hopes to have tuition assistance and scholarships. The school would also like to be able to expand. The school is the only one specifically for children with autism in South Texas.
Yahagi said the prevalence of autism is rising. Ten years ago, 1 in 1,000 children were diagnosed with the developmental disorder, now it's 1 in 88.
The father of three said he is not sure of the exact cause in the surge but believes it is because the diagnostic criterion have changed.
Yahagi said autism takes a toll on the children affected and their caregivers.
He added he would like to assist them as much as he can.
"It's hard to cover everything, but I'd like to help," he said.