Bratt musician's 'Legacy' continues
By By Janet Little Cooper
Bratt native Richard Keith Pearson helped his family plan a benefit concert last August as he underwent treatment in an Atlanta hospital for leukemia.
Pearson, 23, who served as the Creative Arts pastor and worship leader at Mountain Lake Church of Atlanta for more than two years, wanted to help ease the financial burden that was piling up for his treatment.
A week before the benefit concert, Pearson died after being hospitalized for 40 days due to the ravages of leukemia.
Today, more than a year after Pearson's Sept. 9, 2005 death, the benefit concert has transformed into a legacy of this young musicians life reaching out to others in need of hope.
"Rick's memorial fund actually got started as a benefit fund before he died," his mother Elaine Holk of Bratt said. "He was alive and talked about the first concert with us. We knew that Leukemia could be a financially devastating blow, so we thought a
benefit concert would be a good idea."
The first concert was scheduled for Sept. 16, but took a different direction after Pearson died. The family decided to go ahead with the concert as a memorial for their son.
"The first concert was in October, a month after he died," Holk said. "This year the second annual benefit concert now named, "Legacy" was in Alpharetta, Ga., at the First Baptist Church. It was a huge success. Candi (Rick's older sister) was the mastermind behind the production. She was able to call on fellow artist friends to volunteer for the night. It was a great show. It was a great night to remember the life and
legacy of Rick and to remind us all that what we do for Christ is the only thing that matters. We were reminded that "We Win" was the theme this past year
and continues to be the theme if you are a Christian."
A website that had been designed for Pearson's ministry became an information post for family and friends during Pearson's time in the hospital. It was there that everyone could read excerpts from a journal that Pearson kept while he was hospitalized.
The website has continued to be a useful tool in keeping Pearson's legacy and passions alive.
"The website www.rickpearson.org is now being updated," Holk said. "Please visit and comment under the blogs. We love to read people's comments. It is truly what got us through some long days and nights at the hospital. There will be an opportunity to buy some "Legacy' t-shirts from the website also. We are proud and excited to see what God has done and continues to do through the Legacy of Rick Pearson."
Pearson was active in a junior/senior high school summer camp called BigStuf Camp. He participated as worship leader and friend to many of the staffers. He also worked with Passion Conferences, a ministry to college students. DVD's and CD's have been made of some of Pearson's music he performed at these camps and will be available for purchase along with a copy of the "Legacy" concert that was just held.
"A CD of songs from Rick's journal is a project that
is in the works now," Holk said. "One writing retreat has already taken place and the other happens in a week or so. Billy (Holk's husband) and I funded these retreats for our daughter Candi and some of Rick's other musician friends to get together in the mountains and take his journals and write songs from them. They already have about ten songs, or the pieces of ten. We're hoping to offer the CD and
Pearson's sister, Candi Pearson-Shelton is in the middle of writing a book about the families experience with her brother's death and the ministry of his life while here on earth and after death. The book, "The Aftermath of Hope", is being compiled by Shelton and a friend of Pearson's, Shannon Scott, who kept his website updated during his illness.
The family set up the Rick Pearson Memorial Fund shortly after Pearson's death. All of the money collected goes through the National Christian Foundation who makes grants to the recipients in the name of the Pearson Memorial Fund.
"We chose four ministries and organizations to help through the fund, Holk said. "They were all-important to Rick, and he participated and loved each one. A representative from each of the four organizations as well as Candi, and two other people not affiliated serve on the board of directors for the memorial fund. They all collectively decide where the money gets spent."
Money raised through the "Legacy Concert", DVD and CD sales are divided among the following ministries or organizations: Mountain Lake Church building fund, this is the church where Rick served; Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults; BigStuf Camps and Passion Conferences.
"The fund wishes to continue Rick's passion for Bigstuf Camps by sponsoring students who may not be able to afford registration because of unforeseen circumstances so that they can experience a life-changing week of camp" Holk said. "This past summer, the fund sent more than 35 students who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina to BigStuf Camp. The memorial fund continues to express Rick's love for Passion Conferences by financially contributing to areas where the most need arises as conference time approaches. Last January the fund helped bring several college students from Slovakia to the USA to experience a Passion conference and take back their passion for Christ to their own country."
Pearson's family and his fianc/e, Suzanne Hardy are making it one day at a time.
"Some days are awfully hard. Suz is very much a part of our family and will always be. We see her and spend time with her when we go to Atlanta just like we
do our other girls. Just like all of us, she is giving it all to God, realizing that He doesn't make sense sometimes, but we know that He loves us. He has graciously shown us so much that He's done through Rick's death. Lives have been born into the kingdom or changed to be more productive for the kingdom. These are the things that make us happy about Rick's legacy."
Here are some easy ways people can easily make a
difference and extend Rick's Legacy:
little or a lot, every cent counts! You can simply
write a check to "The National Christian Foundation"
and write in the memo line of the check, "Rick Pearson
Memorial". The mailing address for The National
Christian Foundation is: 1100 Johnson Ferry Road,
Suite 900, Atlanta, GA 30342
personally make a life-changing difference in a
child's life. Visit their website – www.compassion.com
never know how important this small sacrifice can be.