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New York City musician who lost son to fentanyl to put on benefit concert to help LGBTQ people pay for treatment

NYC dad organizes benefit concert to help pay for others' fentanyl treatment
NYC dad organizes benefit concert to help pay for others' fentanyl treatment 02:35

NEW YORK -- A New York musician who lost his son to fentanyl is fighting back against the problem, one note at a time.

CBS New York investigative reporter Tim McNicholas has more one one dad's unique efforts to try to prevent other parents from suffering the same heartache.

It was more than just a concert rehearsal. As a musician, Rich Pagano has been through plenty of those. But this one was a preparation for something bigger.

"This is truly the most important show that I do every year," Pagano said.

Pagano tragically lost his son, Nic, in July of 2021 to fentanyl. Before he died, Nic told his parents he wanted stay clean and become a social worker with a focus helping on the LGBTQ community.

Now, Pagano is using his music connections to plan a benefit concert to help LGBTQ people pay for treatment.

"They feel they're going to be ostracized or beat up, and not accepted. So the fact that we can offer this to a young adult or anybody in the community that is resistant because they feel different," Pagano said.

Money raised will go to a fund launched in his son Nic's name, with the help of the nonprofit Release Recovery Foundation. The concert will be held Thursday night, just days after the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it seized a record-breaking amount of fentanyl last year.

"It does keep getting worse and my goal right now is to get louder," said Zac Clark, who founded Release Recovery in 2017. "It's disheartening. It's said, but there's hope. There's hope because events like this didn't exist five or 10 years ago. We are making progress."

Last year's concert was a massive success, raising enough money to pay for treatment for four people at the Caron Treatment Center in Pennsylvania.

Overall, the scholarship fund has helped 18 people get treatment.

"If I hadn't gotten the Nic Pagano Scholarship Fund and gotten to Caron, I'm 100% sure I'd be dead today," Andie Nussbaum said.

And this year's concert will once again feature Martha Redbone and a stellar lineup of artists who will be ready to light up the room, the same way Nic did.

"He was a singer, dancer, actor. He was a big personality and loved by many and that's why it was so easy for him to become a welcoming entity at the door of treatment for people in his community," Pagano said.

You can still buy tickets to Thursday night's show at City Winery on 11th Avenue. They're available on City Winery's website.

Pagano said his goal is raise as much as he can, but he said another goal is make sure everyone has fun, because that's what Nic would have wanted.

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