PLOW!APALOOZA: A Benefit for a Young Man Whose Inspiration Outlives Him


For most of us, the word “plow” is primarily associated with farming. But for the many friends and love ones left behind by Kris Lundeen, “plow” will always serve as a reminder of someone taken too soon, and for those of us still here to live the joy and passion he did right up through the end.

On Wednesday, Kris’s friends will get together at DiPiazza for PLOW!APALOOZA, a musical celebration of the dear departed and a fundraiser to help his family defray costs related to his battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and subsequent funeral.

Kris’s mother, Twila, says she was gratified when Kris’s friends approached her about the possibility of doing a benefit event.

“With one income in Southern California you don’t have much money; and with three kids you really don’t have much money,” she says. “The church that I work at, they donated some money, but the funeral cost [about] $13,000. [… S]ome of the medical bills have been written off, but I’m still getting billed. […] He was 25 years old; he had no life insurance. He had, you know, just over a thousand dollars in the bank. [Laughs] No 25-year-old expects to die—so they don’t plan for it.”

But as much as the money will help, Twila says it is the idea of honoring Kris that matters to her most.

plowpalooza3“[His friends] asked me if they could do this, and I said, ‘Of course’ […] just to honor Kris, regardless of the money,” she says. “[…] After he died, one of his nurses at the hospital told me, ‘You have no idea how much your son and his positive attitude has changed my life.’ […] He just got into everybody’s heart. […] That’s why you’ve still got websites up and still got people talking about him and wanting to do benefits to help his family. He impacted people that [the family] didn’t even know about.”

Freddie Dilworth, a member of The Barrelhousers, one of the bands playing at DiPiazza on Wednesday, is one of the many people touched by Kris. Dilworth met Kris when the two were together in the technical program at the Cypress Community College Theatre Department, a trade that Kris turned into a budding career at Knott’s Berry Farm before the cancer cut him down in January.

“He was always known as the techie who was dancing backstage, being all crazy and quirky,” Dilworth says. “[…] The way that he would love to be described is as one of the biggest geeks you ever met—in the most fantastic way. Knowledge of the most obscure, insane kung-fu movies. [… He would] dance to any music, sing any song no matter how off-key he was. He would jump into any conversation and make anybody feel welcome. You couldn’t scare him away with anything. No negativity would deter this man. He forced you to be his friend! You had to love him. […] He was a very open person, very loving.”

It was at Knott’s Berry Farm, through a humorous miscommunication, that “plow” became associated with Kris as a general term related to power, energy, and enthusiasm. And so when he was diagnosed with cancer early in 2012 and Team Lundeen was formed to support him, their slogan was a natural: Fighting Cancer with the Power of PLOW!

plowapaloozaflyer“‘Plow’ was used, is used [by Kris’s circle of friends] just to describe how much he loved life,” says Twila, who can’t help but weep a little when speaking about her son. (“You know, you would think it gets easier,” she says as an aside, “But it doesn’t.”) “He was so full of life. He wasn’t afraid to be Kris. Some people are worried about what other people will think of them, but Kris never was. Kris just was Kris. He was silly and dorky, and he loved weird, off-the-wall movies and wanted to tell everyone he knew about them.”

“‘Plow’ still remains a mantra amongst his community of friends,” says Dilworth, noting that Team Lundeen remains intact, its slogan altered to read: Living Life with the Power of PLOW! “It’s a reminder to seize the day.”

His mother says that’s exactly how Kris would want to be remembered.

“He’d want to be remembered mostly just for his love of life, his zest for life,” she says. “He was an extraordinary young man.”

Catch that spirit and at PLOW!APALOOZA (the exclamation point is not optional) on Wednesday, May 29, from 6PM to 10PM at DiPiazza, 5205 E Pacific Coast Hwy LB 90804. It’s an all-ages show (admission: $10, but free for kids 12 and under), with music by The Barrelhousers, The ROUS’s, Twitching Fingers, On Parade, and Kitcat & the Heartattack, plus master of ceremonies Mark McCombs, a silent art auction, and raffles. Live the power of PLOW! and contribute to a good cause.

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