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A different spin on a disco ball

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Mountain Town Stages is putting a different spin on their Disco Ball.

After a one-year absence of the winter event, Friday’s revival of the ball, featuring the Utah 1970s cover band "The Disco Drippers," will include more than a good time and an opportunity to raise funds for live music in Park City. The ball will also raise awareness and support for the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Toby Martin, the organization’s new executive director, says it will be the first time the nonprofit will be lending a hand to a third party.

"Montel Williams [the talkshow host] has MS, the drummer from the band Iron Maiden has MS it’s everywhere, " he said. "There is something like 400,000 cases diagnosed each year I know there are so many fundraisers in Park City, but this event is a very big deal."

Disco Ball attendees can buy their tickets at the door for $15 and are encouraged to dress up in their best Studio 54 era digs. A silent auction featuring artwork from the Redstone Gallery, Terzian Galleries, The Canyons Resort and the Alaskan Fur Company will accompany the event, as well as a live, online auction on e-bay for two New York Knicks tickets. Martin says among the most expensive big-ticket auction items is a diamond necklace worth $8,000.

Martin managed to round up cooperation throughout the state for the ball, with sponsorship from radio stations, basketball teams and modeling agencies. As a result, the ball will include a fashion show with Harley Davidson and help from the McCarty Talent modeling agency in Salt Lake City, a special performance by the Utah Jazz dancers, a dance contest and a "best-dressed" contest.

For Martin, the realities of MS are personal. He can recall when his college roommate, still in his 20s, developed the disease.

"My roommate in college has been wheel-chair bound for 25 years and my own nephew, who is only 29, has it," he says. "It’s a disease that does not favor one age over another."

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is one of the most common diseases of the nervous system and has prevailed since the 1800s.

The society describes MS as an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system a structure that consists of the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves, and surrounding protective fatty tissue called myelin. In MS patients, myelin is damaged or lost and the deterioration of the tissue damages their nerves’ ability to conduct electrical impulses.

The disease attacks people in varying ways, the society reports, from cognitive dysfunction, to physical dysfunction, and can affect speech, swallowing, vision, and walking.

Martin previously worked for the production company of the famed Utah family performing pop group, the Osmonds, and has invited long-time friend and MS patient, Alan Osmond to the Friday evening bash.

Osmond received the Dorothy Corwin spirit of Life Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2000, and reports that a new treatment has offered him new hope.

Osmond, who had continued to perform for most of his lifetime, says he was forced to retired as the leader of the Osmond Brothers group over a decade ago, because of his illness.

"I was diagnosed about 20 years ago, and it was slow," Osmond recalls. "Then I got what’s called ‘foot drop,’ and I thought, ‘wow, I keep tripping.’"

Osmond has primary progressive MS, which means his illness will keep getting worse. A new treatment, however, has helped him regain considerable strength in the past three years, and he was able to reunite with his brothers for a concert last year in England, he says.

"I have MS, but MS does not have me," he says. "I have some things that have helped me get through, with just positive attitude. I’ve got some new things happening in my life that are very, very positive."

Osmond explains that his family he has eight sons and 13 grandchildren has gotten stronger, despite the challenges that MS brings with it.

"The most devastating thing to see is other people hurt like I used to hurt," he said. "The best thing I can say is help is on the way.

Osmond remembers the music of the 1970s fondly and looks forward to the event.

"The Beegees were good friends of ours. When all the trends went through, I was a part of it," he recalls. "The Jacksons and the Osmonds were kind of touring side-by-side with Dick Clark Productions and we all just sort of evolved with the music. We just tried to do our own thing, we wrote a lot of our own songs."

Martin says he hopes to be able to host the Disco Ball event annually.

"The Disco Drippers last 4th of July played to 6,000 people they’re definitely a Salt Lake institution," he said. "We hope to attract people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to Harry O’s and we hope people will come early and stay late."

Mountain Town Stages Disco Ball 2007 will take place Friday, Feb. 23 beginning at 8 p.m. at Harry O’s located at 427 Main Street in Park City. Tickets are $15 at the door.


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