All charities have their challenges, but keeping up with boat measurements so they can dock for a daylong concert event, may be unique to Lake Wylie Children’s Charity.
“This is a tough job,” said Jennifer Joye, executive director. “There are limited spaces, and of course everyone wants a spot.”
The local group helping families of pediatric cancer and life-threatening conditions holds several fundraisers throughout the year. Its biggest event is a free fall concert with hundreds coming out. Bands volunteer for a lakefront concert Sunday afternoon. Proceeds from the event, which includes a silent auction, bake sale and more, helps offset medical costs.
Among the challenges ahead of the Oct. 2 concert on T-Bones on the Lake lawn is someone to figure out how to park boats at the docks.
“The hardest thing is that all the spots are different sizes and if no one ever changed boats then it would be fine, but that is not the case,” Joye said. “So there is a lot of measuring and rearranging to try and get all the (returning) boats back in.”
Despite logistics, scores of volunteers rally to help. In past years, the organization picked a family or two each year to assist. This year, they are branching out to help case-by-case throughout the year. So far this year Lake Wylie Children’s Charity helped seven families with children aged 10 months to 16. Five were diagnosed with a condition before their first birthday.
Stories vary. One child had to have her esophagus detached from her aorta, and needs a special trachea as she grows. Another has muscular dystrophy. Another child has a rare syndrome, only about 100 children in the world like him, causing rapid weight gain.
Two children needed multiple heart surgeries in their early months. Another child has to travel to Charleston and Columbia weekly for treatment of tumors in her eyes. The charity also helped the family of a girl injured in a drive-by shooting, who was left paralyzed and died shortly after her release from the hospital.
Shannon Warren, whose band played the event last year, works as a federal probation officer and part-time social worker. He also is a father.
“When you’re blessed and you’ve got a lot going for you, you’ve got to give back,” he said.
Playing regularly at T-Bones, Warren sees the type of work charity volunteers do.
“You know what it’s all about,” he said. “I’m always down to play the main benefit. There’s good people down there.”
Mandy Eaton “had no idea that any such thing was out there” when she first heard of Lake Wylie Children’s Charity. Eaton’s daughter, Aubrey, spent so much of her young life in the hospital it crossed up the paperwork for her medical care, the system thinking she lived there.
“She had to stay in the hospital for five months,” Eaton said. “Then she went back for another month. Then she went back for a week.”
Eaton had to leave Fort Mill to be closer to her daughter’s hospital in Charlotte. A relative and online discussion of her situation connected Eaton to the group. The charity has helped with the first three months rent in a new apartment, a new crib, a stroller big enough to carry oxygen tanks and other items needed for Aubrey’s care.
“It was just a relief,” Eaton said. “It was a weight lifted, and that’s really hard to find, because I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
At first, Eaton had a hard time accepting help from the group. But like other families through the years, options were limited.
“I’m not the kind of person to take from somebody, but I needed it, and there was nothing I could do but just say thank you and accept it,” she said.
She still isn’t quite sure how to express to the group, what it means to her family.
“Thank goodness for Lake Wylie Children’s Charity is all I have to say,” Eaton said. “I don’t know what I would have done.”
Since starting in 2002, the charity group has raised more than $600,000 for area families.
“There are so many people who go into making this possible, I could go on and on,” Joye said.
John Marks: 803-831-8166
Want to go?
Lake Wylie Children’s Charity Benefit Concert runs noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at the T-Bones on the Lake lawn in Lake Wylie. The event includes a silent auction, bake sale and concessions. There also is a children’s area. Coolers are allowed and bring a lawn chair. WSOC 103.7 personality Big Sexy will host. Bands include Decarlo, Band Am, Sonic Rewind, Sondor Blue and the Shannon Warren Band. For more information, visit facebook.com/LKWChildCharity.