Dueling pianos

Benefit supports voc ed for disabled

Tommy Sklut, left, of Royal Oak, duels with Vince Strong of Oshkosh, Wis. Below, left, audience members clap, whoop and holler at the energetic event.

MARQUETTE — It was all lights, pianos and action Saturday night in the Masonic Center’s Red Room when Tommy Sklut of Royal Oak and Vince Strong of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, took to the stage. The pair took song suggestions and musically duked it out at the downtown Marquette venue for the Dueling Pianos Benefit, presented by Lakestate Industries.

Lakestate came together with Radio Results Network and Double Trouble Entertainment, said Andrea Wash, director of charitable giving at Lakestate Industries. Having worked with Strong and Sklut previously, the two companies strongly recommended their show and wanted to showcase the pianists’ talent at a larger event, said Wash. Lakestate joined in to help, with a third of the total proceeds going toward its mission.

A charitable organization, Lakestate does vocational training and job development for adults with disabilities, explained Wash.

“We teach them vocational skills and find them jobs in the community using those skills. A significant amount of the proceeds are going to be going back to Lakestate … What makes us unique in this field is that we provide job coaching all over the community,” said Wash, explaining that Lakestate sends trainers to clients in need “to support them and support their employers.”

“That obviously costs money, so we are really excited to have such a successful fundraiser, both in Escanaba (Friday) and here,” she said.

Wash emphasized that “Radio Results Network, Double Trouble Entertainment and the Masonic Center gave a lot of resources for this event. It’s not just Lakestate … We tagged along, but there’s no way it would have been successful without them.”

Wash encourages anybody in the community who experiences physical or intellectual barriers to employment to call Lakestate Industries if they need assistance. Another way to support Lakestate, said Wash, is through donating candle wax, which is used by Lakestate clients to make “those famous Yooper fire starters.”

In addition, Lakestate is looking for local employers to “brainstorm with our job developer (on) how you can create a position for one of our clients,” Wash said. “We would work for anyone on that.”

For more information, Lakestate Industries can be reached at 906-273-2131.

Rachel Oakley can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is roakley@miningjournal.net.