Garrison Keillor, author and creator of “A Prairie Home Companion” will present a special benefit performance, “An Evening for Africa,” Friday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m., at the State Theatre in Eau Claire. The event is a fundraiser to help continue the charitable work begun by Keillor’s cousin and former Menomonie resident, Alec Johnson.

Alec was an astrophysicist who grew up in Menomonie, attending Menomonie High School. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later lived in Belgium. He pursued a lifestyle that was selfless and devoted to developing community and to education, especially of children.

Alec died in 2014 from an accidental drowning. His family and friends are carrying on his work, focusing on breaking the poverty cycle for the people of Uganda, through the nonprofit Transforming Individual Lives Today (https://cultivating-community.org/)

“During his life, Alec was committed to building community wherever he lived, to providing support to the lonely and impoverished, and needy children, especially orphaned,” said his father and Menomonie physician, Dr. Dan Johnson. “We’re honored to be able to continue Alec’s commitment in Uganda.”

Alec worked with Uganda-based charity St. Augustine Community Love Program, founded by Anywarach Joshua Carter, now a member of the Uganda parliament. He established scholarships for children, created a micro-banking system to provide hundreds of local women with seed money for cottage industries, and aligned with Farming God’s Way to teach farmers skills to enrich the soil, protect crops and increase yields.

Proceeds from Keillor’s “An Evening for Africa” will help provide education scholarships for students in northwestern Uganda, expand seed money for micro-banking projects for cottage businesses, and help train farmers and add wells.

One of America’s most beloved radio hosts and acclaimed humorists, Garrison Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minn. and began his radio career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1966.

He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. Today, some 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations coast to coast and beyond tune in to the show each week.

Keillor has been honored with Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His many books include Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance, and Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny (Viking).

Keillor is also the host of the daily program The Writer’s Almanac and the editor of several anthologies of poetry. In 2007, he opened an independent bookstore, Common Good Books, in St. Paul, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Sponsors of the Garrison Keillor and “An Evening for Africa” include the Lismore Hotel and Informalist restaurant, Orgel Wealth management, author Neil Gaiman, law firm Weld Riley, S.C., Lasker Jewelers, and Northwestern Bank of Chippewa Falls.

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Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.