Grateful Dead Tribute Concert Raises Funds for Hackensack Meridian Health

People of all ages will be dancing in the street on Saturday, Sept. 23, to help Hackensack Meridian Health grow its autism services.                                                                                                       

The 23rd annual Let It Grow Benefit Concert will feature a trio of bands playing Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia tunes and raise needed funds for Hackensack Meridian Health’s Autism CAN, a philanthropic program emphasizing care, access and navigation across its statewide network. 

A portion of the proceeds from the outdoor, seven-hour event will also be donated to Hope For The Warriors and Tracers, the Bergen County Division of Veterans Services.

Jerry Garcia & The Spirit of Giving

Let It Grow Business Development Manager Randy May said the idea for an annual tribute concert was born on Aug. 9, 1995, the day Jerry Garcia died. CEO and Founder Paul T. Imbarrato and friends gathered to play and reminisce, just an informal block party jam.   

“But coincidentally, a local family needed help, so the idea for a charitable event started,” May said.

Supporting Hackensack Meridian Health

Since then, Hackensack Meridian has been a frequent beneficiary, as have other health care nonprofits like the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. Veterans and other special needs causes like the Tunnel To Towers Foundation have also received donations. May estimates the concerts – which are always a nod to the Grateful Dead – have raised close to $1 million over the years.

“We truly appreciate the support of the Let It Grow Benefit Concert to help raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while providing vital funding that ensure our clinical teams meet our patients and families where they need it most,” said Richard Knupp, vice president of Development, North, Hackensack University Medical Center and Palisades Medical Center.

Knupp noted that proceeds will support the health care network’s efforts to create inclusive environments, train team members and provide access to resources to improve the quality of care for children with ASD throughout the state.                                                                                                                                 

Tracers, the Bergen County Division of Veterans Services, will use the funding to supply bus tickets to jobs, assist in preparing veterans for employment, and to fill in gaps in the service delivery system for homeless veterans.

Let it Grow & Autism CAN

Autism CAN was established in 2021 to provide access to the highest level of care, create access and specialized environments sensitive to the unique needs of children on the autism spectrum and help families navigate resources.                                                                  

The program emphasizes Care, Access and Navigation of Hackensack Meridian Health’s statewide network, specified to the unique needs of children on the autism spectrum and their families. 

By creating an inclusive environment, the hospital and Autism CAN improve the quality of care for children with autism spectrum disorder throughout New Jersey.

Concert Day Sept. 23

The donation for the day of the concert is $30 per person; free for children 12 and under. Let It Grow is seeking corporate sponsors and welcomes individual and family donations. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

“This year we’re looking to double what we raised last year. We have more opportunities for sponsors and added a VIP section,” May said.   

Each $2,500 VIP section seats eight people and has a table, screen, bar, food and air conditioning.                                                                         

The event begins at 3 p.m., rain or shine, at 52 Ackerson St., River Edge. There will be two stages with continuous live music until 10 p.m., plus children’s activities, food and merchandise for sale. People can bring their own alcohol, but no glass of any kind is permitted. 

Thank You Let it Grow

May said Let it Grow employees cook all the food, sell the swag and clean up. Many of the musicians are local and donate their time. The River Edge Police support the event and it’s become a big community party.

The main bands performing on Stage 1 are: 

    • Wig Jam – a Grateful Dead jam band performing for more than 30 years in the tristate area.
  • Particle Theory – Garcia Grisman, Old and in the Way, Miles Davis, Monk, and Bill Monroe – are a “new grass jazz ensemble” that blends all genres.

Reflections BandCelebrating, remembering and loving the music of Jerry Garcia & The Grateful Dead.