By Pat Prescott

The High Hopes Head Injury Program was started in 1975. This one-of-a-kind non-profit charitable organization is dedicated to the rehabilitation and retraining of their people and their families who had been devastated by traumatic head injuries.

Conservatively, one million six hundred thousand head injuries are estimated to occur annually in the United States. There are about 22,400 traumatic brain injuries in California alone each year. On average, seven million dollars will be spent over lifetime for the rehabilitation and care of each survivor. Automobile, motorcycle, stroke, and sports related accidents cause the majority of head injuries. Although head injuries range from mild to severe, more than 50,000 victims each year are left with severe physical and cognitive impairments. For any individual and family faced with the prospect of significant life-changing disabilities and lengthy rehabilitation, the task often feels overwhelming to say the least.

High Hopes Head Injury Program has been and will continue to be a bastion of hope for those facing difficult financial problems as it is the lowest costing program of its kind in the nation. In addition, High Hopes offers scholarship assistance for many of our students otherwise unable to afford a program. As the cost of providing the program is not covered by student tuition income, High Hopes is only able to offer such assistance through fund-raising by direct donations and events like the annual Eric Marienthal and Friends benefit Concert. I spoke to Eric Marienthal and to the organization’s founder, Mark Desmond, about this year’s fundraiser this Sunday night at the Hyatt in Newport Beach.

This is the 18th year that Eric Marienthal has produced and participated in the fundraising concert for High Hopes. We talked about how he met Mark Desmond while taking swimming lessons and how Mark asked for his help to raise funds. Over the years, Eric has brought together quite a roster of artists including Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Vesta Williams, Patti Austin, Johnny Mathis, Lou Rawls, Rick Braun, Peter White and many more. This year’s show features Eric along with guitar legend Lee Ritenour and a very special surprise guest.

Talaya Trigueros, host of The WAVE’s midday show, is the host of this annual event, committing her time and talent along with the great musicians who have performed. This has been a busy year for Eric who has been out touring in support of his latest CD “Bridges”, a collaboration with his long-time friend, guitarist Chuck Loeb.

I also spoke to High Hopes executive director Mark Desmond who told me the story of how he got started with High Hopes. He was a swimming instructor when he met a family with a son who had suffered head injuries. Mark worked with their son and when he saw how much he improved with proper treatment and other resources he decided to help others like him. Mark says he has seen many miracles with their students. He told a couple of stories of some of those people and how they have inspired him to keep it going.

One of the thing that makes his concert special is the inclusion of some of the brain injured individuals and their families. High Hopes has raised a few million dollars over the years. Mark appreciates the musicians who donate their talents and attract sell-out crowds every year.
It’s still not too late to get tickets to attend this Sunday.

The 18th Annual Eric Marienthal and Friends Concert to Benefit High Hopes
Sunday July 10, 2016 at 5PM
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
1107 Jamboree Rd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
For more information call 949-733-0044 or visit


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