Benefit concert to honor memory of Windham student

Sandie Rogers, the mother of Kyle Rogers, who died in a snowmobiling accident last December, is trying to turn her family’s tragedy into something positive for her son’s former classmates at Windham High School.

To that end, Rogers is organizing a concert featuring family friend and country music singer John Berry to raise money for a scholarship fund that will benefit one or two students in Windham’s Class of 2011, the year Kyle would have graduated.

The Kyle Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund Concert takes place at Windham High School on Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $27.50, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Kyle Rogers Scholarship Fund. The amount given out to one or two of members of the Class of 2011 will depend on how many attend Friday night’s concert.

Berry, who scored a No. 1 country single with his 1995 song “Your Love Amazes Me,” will be in Windham for one night only, as part of a nationwide tour.

“Each year, he travels all over the United States performing six nights a week in six weeks leading up to Christmas. Right now he’s slowly making his way to Maine,” said Rogers, who is Berry’s former fan club manager, setting up gigs in the New England area, lining up interviews with the press, getting sponsors and selling concert tickets for the country singer from Athens, Ga.

“He’s got a phenomenal, incredible voice. He is Nashville’s hidden talent,” Rogers said.

Berry has been friendly with the Rogers family of Windham ever since Sandie Rogers became a fan of his 1995 single. The same week his single went to No. 1, Berry found out he had a tumor on his brain stem. Then doctors found polyps on his vocal chords. Due to the medical setbacks, Berry had to refrain from singing or talking for months and eventually lost his label, Capitol Nashville.

“John is a strong Christian man, family-oriented. Once he was through the woods, he started his own label, Clear Sky Records, and continued plugging along,” Rogers said.

Earlier this decade, Rogers attended one of Berry’s shows in Skowhegan, met him backstage and asked him what it would take to get him to perform in Portland. Rogers eventually became his fan club manager in 2004 and organized concerts in Portland, Westbrook, and Windham, as well as out of state. In 2006, Rogers divorced and needed to find a full-time job, which limited her ability to assist the country singer.

“I’m no longer his fan club manager, but I still help out when I can,” Rogers said.

The Dec. 18 concert, the second one Berry has held at Windham High School, is to honor Kyle Rogers. When Kyle died in a snowmobiling accident in St. Agatha in northern Maine on Dec. 27, 2008, Sandie Rogers’ first call was to Berry to start a prayer chain. The next day, Berry called to say he was flying up for the funeral.

“The bottom line is that he is just a really good friend. He would do anything for us,” Sandie Rogers said.

Kyle Rogers had a lot of friends. More than 1,000 people attended his wake and 850 people attended the funeral.

“He was a great friend. We really miss him,” said Phil Michaud, who was Kyle Rogers’ boss at Panther Run Marina, and was with Kyle when the accident occurred.

Sandie Rogers is also excited about the prospect of helping one of her son’s former classmates with scholarship money.

“My daughter is 21 and with Kyle gone there are no children in the house anymore. I feel I need a connection,” she said.

Rogers is also glad the concert is near Christmas and the anniversary of her son’s death.

“Kyle’s accident was two days after Christmas, so this is keeping me focused and busy,” Rogers said. “And I’m very excited about one or two of his classmates benefiting from it. It’s a positive coming out of this tragedy.”

Kyle Rogers, a 15-year-old Windham student who died in a snowmobile accident last December, shown here with his mom Sandie, will be remembered Friday night in a benefit concert held in Windham. Proceeds from the concert will go toward a scholarship for one or two of Rogers’ classmates. (Courtesy photo)Country musician John Berry wears a green and black bracelet that Sandie Rogers, mother of Kyle Rogers, created to honor her son. The green and black signifies colors for Arctic Cat, the brand of snowmobile Kyle rode. Berry will perform Dec. 18 in Windham in a benefit concert in Kyle’s memory. (Courtesy photo)