A Delaware student who in April started on a cross-country bicycle journey inspired by Oklahoma folk pioneer Woody Guthrie is in Oklahoma this weekend for the festival celebrating what would have been Guthrie's 100th birthday.
Mike Fink, 25, a University of Delaware history major, has been on the road for 75 days, and part of his journey is to raise awareness about the fight against Huntington's disease, the disease that led to Guthrie's death in 1967 at age 55.
Huntington's is a hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is currently no effective treatment or cure.
Fink is making a pit stop in Okemah, Guthrie's hometown, for the 15th annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.
Fink said learning about Guthrie inspired him during a “Culture of the Cold War” seminar he took at the university. He was particularly moved by Guthrie's use of music as a tool for social change when he sang for refugees, union workers and others.
“He was going around and singing to folks and trying to rebuild that spirit in America,” Fink said. “That in particular is something that speaks to me.”
Fink arrived Thursday and will be around for the Woody Guthrie festival-related Hoot for Huntington's event taking place on Sunday.
From noon to 2 p.m. that day after the festival, the musicians still in Okemah will perform a free concert at the Crystal Theater.
The Oklahoma City chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America will have a booth, make a short presentation during the concert and pass jars around to take donations in true Woody Guthrie style.
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