FARMINGTON — Chuck Haven and his band, Signal 99, have been involved in community fundraising since the band formed in 2005.

The band has played benefit concerts for the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Alamogordo and played a fundraiser for one of its fan's daughters when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Two years ago — when his brother, Hank, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — Chuck Haven formed MetalHeads Against MS, a group that raises awareness about the incurable disease and money for MS research. The group puts on a yearly concert with a Poker Run. This year's Poker Run starts at 3 p.m. Saturday and the concert, which features 10 metal bands from New Mexico and Colorado, starts at 5 p.m. at the VFW Post in Durango, Colo.

Hank Haven with Signal 99 plays at the MetalHeads Against MS concert in August 2013 in Durango, Colo. Haven was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about two
Hank Haven with Signal 99 plays at the MetalHeads Against MS concert in August 2013 in Durango, Colo. Haven was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about two years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Multiple sclerosis causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system.

"He has his ups and downs," Chuck Haven said about his brother. "Physically he's doing pretty good."

Hank Haven was formerly a member of Signal 99, a Farmington-based metal band that was founded in 2005. The disease eventually caused Hank Haven to stop playing with the band.

Last year, he picked up his bass one more time to play during the concert.

"It was a real honor and treat to have him take the stage last year," Heidi Lewis, the event organizer, said.

In addition to promoting awareness about multiple sclerosis, Chuck Haven hopes to change some of the negative stereotypes that go along with metal music.

A few weeks ago, when Signal 99 was scheduled to play in El Paso, Texas, Haven said the venue stopped the show because one of the bands was "too heavy."

"People who know that you love metal music tend to think that you're a drug user," Lewis said.

She said there is a stereotype that MetalHeads are drug users and alcoholics.

Lewis said she likes metal music because it is inspiring to her and feels powerful.

She also likes to attend metal concerts because of the community.

"It breaks the barrier of creed, color and origin," she said. "No one person in the crowd will turn and look at another person and judge them."

IF YOU GO

What: MetalHeads Against MS

When: Poker run 3 to 5 p.m.; concert 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: VFW Post, 1550 Main Ave. in Durango, Colo.

Cost: $5

More info: www.metalheadsagainstms.org/

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.