Joshua’s friends host ‘Keep Hope Alive’ concert

Joshua Guimond’s friends at St. John’s are doing everything they can to keep hope alive for the missing political science major from Maple Lake who disappeared without a trace on November 9.

To raise additional funds for the continuing effort to find Joshua, his friends hosted the Keep Hope Alive Benefit Concert on Dec. 5 in the St. John’s student center. While rotating groups of students manned tables filled with “Find Joshua” buttons outside the door, three area bands–Another Day, 2nd Hand Halo and panormaicBlue–filled Brother Willie’s Pub with music geared toward raising both funds and the spirits of students still shocked and saddened by Joshua’s disappearance.

Greg Brandt of Burnsville, Greg Worden of Cokato, Adam Streater of North Branch and Katie Benson of Maple Lake worked for nearly three weeks on bringing the Keep Hope Alive Concert together.

Brandt, one of Joshua’s roommates, got the ball rolling by contacting the agent for panormaicBlue. “They said, ‘Sure, we’d love to do it,’” Brandt said. “So we set up a date and it came to pass. We talked to other bands that might be willing to participate, lined it up and worked with the Pub. And now here we are.”

Connections helped bring in the other bands. Worden’s brother is a member of Another Day and Karsten Williams of Maple Lake is a member of 2nd Hand Halo.

With the bands in place, Benson and Streater worked on publicity, getting out flyers and contacting media. Reports of the concert were broadcast by Twin Cities television stations, and KSTP TV-5 came to St. John’s to do both taped and live news reports from the event.

The four concert organizers said keeping hope alive was their goal.  “I think our biggest fear was that Josh would be forgotten over Thanksgiving break, but that didn’t happen,” Benson said.  “I think it’s cool that people are still wearing their ribbons on their coats and backpacks,” said Streater, referring to the yellow ribbons students received at a prayer service for Joshua held just a few days after he disappeared while returning home from a campus party.

That such an event could occur on an isolated college campus has caused considerable concerns about safety at St. John’s.

Streater noted that the St. John’s Dean of Students has been fielding many calls from frightened parents wondering what happened and if their children are at risk.  “Parents are more concerned about that than students,” Brandt said.

However, Benson disagreed. “I think students are scared too,” she said. “I’m scared.”

But rather than focus on the loss of their friend or their own fears, Joshua’s friends have moved toward constructive action. In addition to the concert, a “Keep Hope Alive” wall in the student center will be adorned with photos of Joshua, written messages and also messages posted on the Find Joshua website set up by Joshua’s friends at findjoshua.org.

“That’s for when Joshua gets back,” Worden said, “so he can read all his messages.”

But the students are concerned that with the continued passage of time, they’ll need help keeping their hope alive as well.

“Before Thanksgiving break, we still had things to say, things going on in the media, checking into leads and students coming forward with things they saw or heard,” said Streater.

“Now, it’s like hopelessness is setting in,” Worden said. “Sometimes you just feel like it’s completely hopeless and it’s all out of your hands.”

But miracles can happen.  Streater pointed out that Benson is now adding to the bottom of her e-mails that her Christmas wish is for Joshua’s return. “It kind of hits home in terms of what you think you want and what’s really important.”

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