Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, April 18, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOWyatt Newhard, 14, of New Tripoli, died Nov. 3, 2018, of cancer. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOWyatt Newhard, 14, of New Tripoli, died Nov. 3, 2018, of cancer.

Wyatt video premiering at Roxy

Saturday, January 26, 2019 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Focus

When Gloria Domina heard that Wyatt Newhard had died Nov. 3, 2018, she says she sat on her couch and cried.

She says she “couldn’t stop crying” for the 14-year-old New Tripoli boy who fought cancer for 11 years.

But then, she says, she decided to “take that energy and do something positive with it.”

Domina, owner of Thirteen Butterflies Productions and director and producer of the Lehigh Valley Music Awards (LVMA), started writing a song envisioning a “We Are The World”-type video to honor Wyatt’s memory and raise funds for his family.

And with that vision in mind, she created The Wyatt Project.

Domina brought together more than 75 performers and technicians from the Lehigh Valley music scene to sing the song, “The Warrior,” and create a video that premieres at 4:45 p.m. Jan. 27, The Roxy Theater, Northampton.

When tickets for the premiere went on sale, they sold out within an hour. There’s a waiting list of more than 200. Domina plans a second public showing of the video.

The response has been heartwarming for Domina.

“It’s turned out to be the biggest blessing,” Domina says. “I’ve never seen a group of musicians come together like this.”

Domina first learned of Wyatt through his work raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Despite being diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system, as a preschooler, she says Wyatt always thought of others and was dedicated to giving back to the community.

“I fell in love with him,” she says. “He was always so positive and I never saw him without a smile on his face.”

She says when she heard that Wyatt had always wanted to learn to play drums, she and other LVMA organizers were “were instrumental” in getting Wyatt a drum set and having Vini Lopez, founding drummer of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, give him drum lessons.

Wyatt performed with Lopez at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards in 2015 when he received the Community Youth Award.

Wyatt’s illness has been a huge financial strain on his family, Domina says. She wanted to do “something that will keep giving back” to them.

Copies of “The Warrior” video will be sold digitally and as a DVD, with proceeds going to Wyatt’s parents, Sarah and Mike Newhard.

Domina called the song “The Warrior” not only in honor of Wyatt’s favorite team, but also in memory of his fighting spirit.

The song was co-written by Jim Steager, Jordan White, Frank Porter and Frank DiBussolo, who also composed the music. They, plus Rick Boulay and Mike Roi, perform after the video premiere. Richard Wolfe, owner-manager of The Roxy Theater, is donating use of the theater.

Musicians participating in the video range in age from 8 and up and represent rock, pop, country, opera and classical music genres. Ian Thatcher and Mike Miller were co-producers of the video.

“It was many hours in rehearsals over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year,” says Domina.

The video was taped Jan. 2 at PigPen Fun Bar, Allentown. Jim McGee of SpectraSound studios provided production services.

“There was hugging, kissing and crying,” she says of the video-taping. “There was a lot of love in that that room.”

The video alternates images of the musicians performing the song with images of Wyatt.

“What I wanted to do was celebrate the life of this really young person who was able to change lives even through an 11-year battle with cancer,” says Domina. “I want to show that his spirit is still inspiring people.”

Information: gloria11355@gmail.com; 215-421-5644