Arts & Entertainment

Concert to assist 11-year-old's fight against disease

In the biblical story, David defeated Goliath with a single stone, but 11-year-old David Willingham-Welch of Kennewick won't have to face a rare inherited disease alone.

David is getting support from area volunteers and Tennessee Christian rock group 33 Miles and local Christian band Broken at a benefit concert July 11.

All proceeds from the show at Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Road in Richland will go to the nonprofit David vs. Goliath foundation, which formed to help David's family defray medical and living expenses.

Broken will debut their new album, including the song Sling and Stone, which was written specifically for David. The self-titled album is $15 and a portion of album sales will go toward the foundation.

"David vs. Goliath asked us if we were interested in writing the song and we decided we'd do that and that's kind of how we got involved in it," said Jeff Barrows, lead guitarist for Broken. "It took about three months to write that song."

Although David's mother Crystal Willingham has not heard their music, she and David are excited for the upcoming concert.

"I think it's awesome," she said. "I just appreciate all the outpouring of support from the community and the work that Bob's done to help spearhead that effort."

Bob Mangione, executive director of David vs. Goliath, began pursuing the foundation's creation after talking to Crystal about her son's condition. It was created this past May.

"It totally changed my paradigm," Mangione said. "My focus changed sharply and I ended up getting with other business colleagues and associates. We formed a six-person executive board and suddenly we have a bonified nonprofit organization called David vs. Goliath Inc."

David was diagnosed with X-linked hyper IgM syndrome at 16 months of age. The inherited disorder affects males and their immune system. Those with it are more susceptible to infections and have low levels of antibodies.

"He has a primary immune deficiency," said his mother. "Basically his body can't fight respiratory infections, so he has to monitor it pretty closely, especially during cold and flu season."

Aside from getting infusions of white blood cells once a month and taking antibiotics, David lives a fairly normal life and attends public school.

David vs. Goliath was created to help Willingham-Welch's family, but the foundation will continue to raise money to help other children as well, said Todd Grabner of Barnabas Productions, which is helping to put on the concert.

People interested in getting involved can donate money, in-kind gifts or their time. Call 509-205-HELP (4357) or e-mail ybmhelp@gmail.com.

Tickets are $15 and are available at Parable Bible Book Stores, Ala Cart Golf Carts, Ted Brown's Music and Tickets West online.

For more information, go to www.davidngoliath.org.

*Bethany Lee: 582-1465; blee@tricityherald.com

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