As children's entertainer Mr. Richard, singer-songwriter Richard Peeples has offered highly elevated, rock 'n' roll whimsy to pint-sized audiences for more than 15 years in Orlando.
He'll be doing it again on Sunday at Orlando Repertory Theatre, but the cause will be more serious than many of his young fans might realize: Mr. Richard and his band, the Pound Hounds, will be among the kid-friendly headliners at "The Heart of Rock and Roll," a benefit show to raise money for his wife's cancer treatment.
Mr. Richard has been part of similar benefit shows, such as the first Ralphfest street party in 2011 to raise money for the family of slain Orlando musician Ralph Ameduri.
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1001 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803, USA
It feels different, Peeples admits, to be the focus of such an event: a concert organized by friends, family and adult fans of the wholesome entertainment that he provides.
"It's pretty overwhelming," says Peeples, 52. "They came and told us, 'There's a benefit and, by the way, you're playing.' It leaves you speechless, the things people do."
Those things extend beyond Sunday's concert, which also will feature performances by Lunch Money, a South Carolina-based children's act that has received national exposure on SiriusXM Radio and NPR, and Central Florida's JiggleMan and Mr. Harley.
"These two girls that are 10 years old opened a lemonade stand in February," Peeples says. "They made $209 in change and gave it to me. Another family had a garage sale and raised $100. Four or five families that I played birthday parties for asked the party guests to bring donations for Danielle instead of presents."
She had a mastectomy in December and learned in February that the cancer had spread to her brain.
The 2011 teacher of the year at Rosemont Elementary School in Pine Hills returned home from her latest hospital stay in April to face the difficult task of relearning basic skills that many of us take for granted.
"She had to come home in a wheelchair, but now she can walk around the house and keep her balance by holding on to tabletops," Peeples says. "We're working on the transition from a walker to a cane."
Danielle, 41, also is coping with short-term memory issues.
"She might remember something that happened yesterday but not that much," Peeples says. "That's the hardest part, but she's getting there. Her personality is in there because she makes jokes and stuff. My wife is a witty, intelligent, funny, curious person."
Fortunately, the results of recent radiation treatments have been encouraging and the Peeples family is determined to face the challenge with the same optimistic spirit that Mr. Richard puts into music that soon will be inspiring a second generation of fans.
"I've heard all these stories about people who have gone back to work a few years later," Peeples says. "The brain is an amazing thing that re-shifts its gears and relearns stuff. It's interesting to watch the things that happen, but I wouldn't wish it on anybody else. We take it a day at a time.
"It's an amazing thing that people have been so supportive."
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'The Heart of Rock and Roll'
What: Kid-friendly acts Mr. Richard, Lunch Money, JiggleMan and Mr. Harley in benefit show for medical expenses of Danielle Peeples
When: 2 p.m. concert Sunday, with drum circle, bake sale, silent auction starting at 1 p.m.
Where: Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando