People are familiar with the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas, but only those who live or travel in the Vallarta area are privy to the goodwill and helping hands provided by Vallarta’s “Gecko Band”.
The band has been in existence in one form or another for eighteen years, and Che Victor, the front-man, singer, and showman, reckons he has played with almost every musician in the bay at one time or another.
The current members of the band have been together five years, but it was three years ago when a health emergency in the local music family prompted the Gecko Band to organize fundraisers at the Roxy House and Captain Don’s as well as in Bucerias at The Drunken Duck. Most of the musicians in the Bay participated and they raised 500,000 pesos.
For the first time, the band realized what a powerful instrument their music and compassion could deliver.
The Geckos are the official band of The John Ozzello Food Bank and Humanitarian Aid and have participated in Bucerias Children Christmas Programs and various performances for the Food Bank; Whale Watching, Woodstock Tribute, and Halloween tributes.
The Geckos have performed at Los Arcos on the Malecon for a Red Cross fundraiser as well as for the 2017 Earthquake and 2018 Hurricane Willa victims.
I was drawn to the band’s humanitarian effort after the Earthquake in November 2017, which affected Mexico City and neighboring states when they were collecting supplies to deliver to the devastated areas; pitching in and doing what Mexicans do, helping each other directly.
The group “Brigada de Mano en Mano (Hand to Hand Brigade)” was formed,
but they prefer “The Rockscue Team” since all the help originates from playing Rock and Roll music.
People from all Mexico, mostly well-known friends, have joined in helping. Their goal is bringing help “HAND TO HAND” to the people who require it. Some of the many amazing people and business that step up during a time of need:
– PRIMERA Plus, a bus line who delivered medication, food, and clothes to the state of Morelos, no charge
– Friends in Jeep and Motorcycle Clubs
– Katie O’Grady who lined up Telemundo 20 and NBC for TV interviews
– Volunteers everywhere in Mexico with availability and resources to travel anywhere
– People offering homes and businesses as warehouses, collection centers, or their vehicles to transport people and supplies
The Brigade assisted with the 2018 hurricane Wilma disaster, providing roughly fifty electric stoves, fifty mattresses, dozens of cases of water, fifty bags of clothes and shoes, hundreds of cans of tuna, sardine, and boxes of medicine, thousands of diapers and sanitary napkins, and dozens of sheets and blankets. All items the Brigade delivered directly to the people.
The Brigade does not have a web page but can be reached via their Facebook page at Brigada de Mano en Mano.
When asked if the Geckos provided assistance all year Victor replied “Mainly after disasters, but, there is always someone in need. We carry clothes and shoes in our vehicles, and whenever we see someone who needs help, we just stop and help”!
Victor and his wife Rosy coordinate all the activities, and if time allows, he, she, or both, travel to the Relief site and help.
Without imitating an Academy Award presentation, I would like to honor and recognize the “Gecko Boys” and the volunteers who make it possible to provide relief to those in need.
The Gecko Boys:
Che Victor, Ricardo Mancha, Julio Ceasar Reyes, Alfredo Lopez Castenada
– Keith Montgomery Ashwood; Victors “sensei on these matters”.
– Rosy Vera; coordinates the field work and visits the sites.
– Glen Eric and Tanya of the Drunken Duck; provide their facilities and donate their profits.
– The Ducks staff; most fundraisers occur on their days off, yet these guys serve on.
– Bernice Martin Del Campo, who provides Captain Don’s for fundraisers and collection centers
– Hugh Gaffney and Simon Lopez from Luna Lounge and Simon’s Bistro, who provides their businesses as Collection Centers and encourage people to make donations.
Receiving their Just Rewards:
The band made trips the last two summers to Western Canada, and were aided in their Mexican Music Invasion by their Vallarta area fans providing accommodations, travel, and most importantly, venues to play at.
While speaking with Victor about the Geckos Canadian escapades, he expressed gratitude for the assistance they received. The humility in Victor’s voice when he described how people “not only provided us places to sleep, but they even cooked for us and treated us like rock stars,” proved to me that good things happen to good people.
One discerning note; since the Gecko Bands Canadian trips, they been indoctrinated with “Rider Green”. Go Stamps Go, 2018 Grey Cup Champs.