By Rebecca Pasqueda, Correspondent
Central Texas Master Singers came together to perform a special concert on Sunday, February 26 from 6-8 p.m. in support of Justin Fingers, a.k.a Buddy. Buddy is a local three-year-old boy diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome and in need of special services to help with his disease. The “Singing It Forward” Benefit Concert took place at the First Christian Church of Belton downtown and was open to the public with a no-ticket requirement for an evening full of peaceful Contemporary Christian Choral and Praise music.
Master Singers’ Director, Steven Kirkpatrick, was moved by an initial Facebook post by his pianist, Kathy Pershall, and inquired about what could be done to help Buddy’s family out. “We normally put on concerts for organizations and not individuals. However, when Kathy told me Buddy’s story, I just knew we had to try and do something,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick looked ahead at their upcoming concerts and began figuring out what could be done to help the Fingers’ situation, leading him to the idea of a benefit concert in support of Buddy.
The event opened with the Master Singers performers walking down the aisles of the church, personally greeting and thanking the audience for attending the concert. The singers then took their places at the front and began singing praise songs for the audience. Kirkpatrick made a few remarks after a few songs, saying, “Thank you all for coming out tonight to show your support for Buddy and his family. It’s a hard situation they are in and we are hoping that our singing compels each of you to give a hearty donation toward Buddy’s needs.”
Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a malformation associated with physical aspects of the skin and glaucoma that leads to blindness and seizures. According to Buddy’s family, he has multiple seizures throughout the day, some lasting only minutes while others, hours. Because of this, he requires around the clock parental supervision, including sleeping with his parents at night. A free-will offering was passed around during the concert in hopes of reaching the set amount goal of $10,000.
In order to live as normal of a life as possible, Buddy’s family is in need of a service dog to help with his symptoms and prolong his life span. Unfortunately, there are no service dogs specifically trained for Sturge-Weber Syndrome patients. However, Buddy’s family found a company that is willing to train a dog specifically for Justin’s needs. While the cost of such a highly-trained dog is somewhere between $20,000-$30,000, the company is willing to only charge the Fingers $12,000. They have been putting on fundraisers and even started a Go Fund Me account to help raise the money they need.
“Every penny counts, so thank you in advance for your donations,” said Kirkpatrick before going back to leading the Master Singers in their performance.
For more information on Buddy’s condition or to donate, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/fxr4r8.