Jason Egli chosen for Music Festival VIP access

OKEECHOBEE — Life Under the Wheel (LUTW), a non-profit based in Connecticut, has awarded one of its festival grants to Okeechobee native Jason Egli.

The non-profit’s mission is to award people who have suffered a life-threatening illness with free VIP access to music festivals all around the country. Individuals can apply for the grant themselves, or friends, family, social workers, healthcare professionals and community organizations can nominate individuals they believe would benefit from the program.

In Jason’s case, his mother nominated him for the chance to attend Okeechobee Music Festival on March 1-4.

Jason Egli (left) was nominated by his mother, Doris Egli (right) for Life Under the Wheel’s festival grant, which awards free VIP access to a music festival for individuals who have suffered through a life-threatening illness. Photo by Richard Marion.

“My mom mentioned that she was going to nominate me,” said Mr. Egli. “But still, when I found out I was a finalist, I was elated and stunned. After becoming a finalist I went through a very thorough process of answering questions about myself and what not. I was just shocked and very humbled that they were even considering me.”

Jason was awarded three tickets to attend the music festival in Okeechobee, one for himself and the two others for his mother, Doris Egli and his girlfriend, Ellie Brewer.

“Seeing my mom’s reaction to everything is going to be the best part,” said Jason. “From the body paint to all the hippies camping around, it’s gonna be a blast to see how she reacts to it.”

Jason was diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2 colorectal cancer, forcing him to leave his job as an English teacher at Okeechobee High School to begin receiving treatment. His first treatments compromised six weeks of chemotherapy and an operation at the Fort Lauderdale Cleveland Clinic to remove the cancer.

Now, close to four years from the initial diagnosis, Jason’s battle with cancer continues.

“Currently I get chemo every two weeks. I moved to a stage 4 once the cancer metastasized to my hip. But as of right now there’s no other cancer that we know of besides my hip. Overall, things are going well. My latest scans show signs of improvement over last year, which is good news,” explained Jason.

Jason’s mother established a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical bills as he receives treatment. If you’d like to donate, you can online at www.gofundme.com/jasonegli.

LUTW was established in 2016 and is currently partnered with seven different festivals, including big names in the festival circuit like Bonaroo, Forecastle, Big Ears and now Okeechobee.

LUTW co-founder Evan Gross came up with an idea for a wish-granting organization that sends individuals living with life-threatening illnesses to music festivals all over the country. The team behind LUTW feels that festivals are special events that can create communities bound together by a passion for music and a love of sharing that experience with others. Extending this opportunity to folks who are going through some of the most trying times of their lives seemed like a perfect way to provide a loving experience and celebrate the incredible music festival community, and remind everyone how special life can be.

In the future, LUTW hopes to have 10 festival partners by 2019, with a long-term goal of every major music festival having at least one LUTW recipient each year.

Jason has had a lifelong love of music and plays in a local band called The Department, which performs at Applebee’s once a month. He says he plans to attend as many days of the festival as he can.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It just seems like it’s going to be a really cool experience.”

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