CINCINNATI -- Like so many people across the Tri-State and the world, Marisa Phillips has been following the story of Ethan Kadish since she first learned his name.
Ethan is the Loveland teen who suffered a severe brain injury after being struck by lightning in 2013. Hundreds of people have supported him and his family in the years since his injury, which left him unable to talk or walk or do much of anything for himself.
Phillips wanted to be part of that support.
So when planning began to bring a Grammy-winning children’s musician to town for a Hanukkah concert, she knew right away that she wanted the performance to benefit Ethan.
That’s how it came to be that Mister G, a Latin, bilingual children’s musician who tours nationally and internationally, will be in Cincinnati for a concert Sunday that aims to raise money for the fund that helps cover Ethan’s medical expenses that his various insurance policies do not.
“All the pieces fell into place,” said Phillips, the coordinator for PJ Library in Cincinnati, a program of the Mayerson JCC and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. “It was a perfect storm in a good way.”
The concert will happen on the eighth night of Hanukkah, when the Kadish family’s friends and supporters have raised money each year through an event they call Eighth Night for Ethan. The idea is for families to take the money they would otherwise spend on gifts that night and instead donate it to a fund for Ethan managed by the nonprofit Help Hope Live.
Sunday marks the sixth year for the event, which has from the start been one of the most important fundraisers for the Kadish family.
Ethan is covered by three different insurance plans -- the family’s private insurance, Ohio Medicaid and another state insurance program for children with medical handicaps. But those three policies don’t cover everything, said Scott Kadish, Ethan’s father.
Despite the fact that Ethan hasn’t needed to be hospitalized at all this year -- a record amount of time outside the hospital since his injury -- his total medical expenses still have topped $1 million this year alone, Scott Kadish said.
“These fundraisers are vital for covering what these other plans don’t cover,” Alexia Kadish said. “Here we are at the sixth Eighth Night for Ethan, and people are still thinking about Ethan and thinking about our family. It’s very touching to still be remembered.”
The Mister G concert Sunday will be free and is open to the public. The music is geared toward younger children, as PJ Library serves kids between the ages of 6 months and 8 years old. Help Hope Live will have a table set up to help educate young families about Ethan and his story, and the organization will be able to take credit card donations that night, Phillips said. The event also will have a collection box for donations, she said.
Alexia and Scott Kadish will be there along with Ethan and his younger sister, Elyse. Until recently, Ethan’s health was so unpredictable that the Kadish family couldn’t be sure he would be well enough to attend events. The first Eighth Night for Ethan, in fact, he ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery.
But changes in his care have made Ethan much more comfortable over the past year, and Alexia Kadish said she’s confident he will enjoy all the music on Sunday. Ethan always has loved music.
“As much as I wish that these past five and a half years had brought him farther along, he has come a long way when you think about it in terms of these milestone markers,” she said. “To be able to say, ‘yeah, he will definitely be there on Sunday,’ that is a good feeling.”
A feeling made possible because of the medical care, therapy and medications that the Kadish family can afford thanks to fundraisers like Eighth Night for Ethan.
WCPO has been following the progress of Ethan Kadish as he continues to recover from being struck by lightning on June 29, 2013. To read the stories, go to wcpo.com/ethan.