Why We Give: Country stars shine for a mission
BY TERRI COFIELL
SPECIAL TO THE UMCONNECTION
Many residents of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle face a hefty commute to D.C. or Baltimore. Harmony UMC’s Lilli “Lee” Adams has them beat: her office is in Music City – Nashville, Tennessee.
Adams is Vice President of Promotion for Broken Bow Records, and on Sept. 11 she will bring together two of her passions, country music and the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Living-Donor Transplant Program, in a benefit concert at Harmony UMC in Falling Waters. This year marks the congregation’s fifth benefit, and features recording artists Dustin Lynch and James Wesley.
Lynch’s single, “Cowboys and Angels,” has reached #11 on Billboard’s country chart following the release of his debut album. Wesley, who tours with Taylor Swift, boasts two top 25 hits with “Real” and “Didn’t I.”So how did Adams convince two of country music’s rising stars to travel to Berkeley County without compensation? “I asked them,” she said.
In 2007, Adams gave one of her kidneys to her brother-in-law, Dave Hornby. “It was life-changing; it took my breath away,” she said, remembering receiving the news that she was a match, something she didn’t fully expect after agreeing to be tested.
Hornby suffered from IgA Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease that left him with 12 percent kidney function. Without a transplant, he wouldn’t survive the year.
A self-described “hypochondriac,” Adams considers herself to be “a voice for the forgotten person in the transplant process.” While the recipient’s insurance pays the surgical bill, aftercare is left to the donor. University Hospital’s program provides follow up care and counseling not covered by insurance.
“There can be a ton of psychological issues,” she said, in addition to the physical stress of donation. Many donors wrestle with depression as well as being viewed as “heroes.” In 2010 she authored “Donor Girl: A Story of Living Kidney Donation,” a candid and often humorous account of her experience. This fall she and her husband, Randy Kuhn, will serve on an ecumenical mission team in Haiti. Adams is also part of Harmony’s Praise Team, playing guitar, flute, mandolin and ukulele.
Singing in church is familiar territory for Lynch, whose grandfather is a pastor and marriage counselor, and Wesley, who credits his mother for encouraging him to sing in church after hearing him “belting out his favorite songs behind his bedroom door.”
Adams is hoping to top last year’s proceeds of $10,000 through ticket sales and a silent auction featuring items signed by Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, and others. She’s also hoping Lynch will perform an original composition, “It’s Your Plan,”the story of his own faith journey.
“This has all been God’s plan,” she said.
The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. A minimum donation of $10 is requested; advance tickets are suggested. Refreshments, autographs, and photographs with the artists will follow. Call 304-274-1719 for information.