Five years ago, a rugby accident left Florida Atlantic University student James "Woody" Beckham paralyzed from the chest down. But despite the long road that injury would set Beckham down, it hasn't defeated the Coconut Grove resident. "Sometimes I got worn out and tired," he says.
But shortly after his recovery, Woody invented what he called the Woody Pack, a backpack filled with 20 different devices like cups with long straws and eating utensils that don't require grip strength, so he could be more independent. The Woody Pack helped him accomplish tasks he once took for granted, and he wanted others in his situation to have access to these tools.
All in all, his invention cost about a hundred dollars to assemble, but over the past few years, through his charity the Woody Foundation, he's been able to donate about 200 Woody Packs to people with similar disabilities living in locales as far away as Indonesia.
To help continue that good deed along with raising awareness for spinal cord injuries, the Woody Foundation is hosting its third-annual
James "Woody" Beckham with a Woody Pack.
Photo Courtesy of Woodystock
Among the acts playing are local Latin reggae rockers Bachaco; Woody's personal family friend, singer/songwriter Cris Cab; reggae superstar Maxi Priest (who sung the 1990 hit "Close to You"); and the day's headliners will be reggae/ska heroes the Expendables — whose lead singer, Geoff Weers, wishes to let you know that the band's show has nothing to do with Sylvester Stallone, explosions, or guns.
The Expendables formed in 1997, and when the first Expendables movie came out in 2010, the Santa Cruz reggae rockers were psyched, Weers says. "It was cool seeing our band name in commercials and on billboards. But when the second and third movies came out, our Google optimization started going down."
But the dudes weren't going to let a couple of confused people who went to their shows hoping for knife fights and washed-up actors on human growth hormone change the name they had groomed for almost two decades.
"We go seamlessly between our two styles of reggae and rock ’n’ roll," Weers says. "Other bands like Sublime or the Police have mixed reggae and rock. We kind of take it to the extreme, since our rock is more metal."
Their new album, 2015's Sand in the Sky, had some of the band's biggest hits in years, and the Expendables are determined not to make fans wait so long for a follow-up. "We made a conscious effort to write a new album right away. We went to a mountain area in Northern California for a retreat. Getting away helps us focus and gives us time to have juices flow. We just write music, go to sleep, then wake up and go right back at it."
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Even better, it's for an excellent cause.