Two upcoming events will benefit Ethen Richardson, a Mount Pleasant third-grader whose journey battling a highly aggressive brain tumor has attracted a nationwide following.
Ethen was diagnosed last summer with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a highly aggressive and inoperable brainstem cancer.
Ethen's family of devout Christians has amassed a prayer army called Team Ethen to support his parents, Brandy and Todd, through their difficult journey. Ethen's public Facebook page has nearly 13,200 followers.
Two upcoming events will benefit the smiley 8-year-old, one through the gift of laughter and one through a live music fundraiser.
First, a Team Ethen movie-making party will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the front lawn of The Church at Life Park at Park West in Mount Pleasant.
Ethen, a Pinckney Elementary student, loves to laugh, so the event involves creating a video of people's best jokes and contributions to their own rendition of Pharrell Williams' popular song "Happy." Participants will be encouraged to re-create the hit song's music video, which features fun-loving people dancing and singing the lyrics.
Ethen and his family are planning to attend the event, provided Ethen feels well enough.
"It's really about making Ethen happy," said Joye Feinzig, who is organizing the event. "We encourage everyone to come and give a shout out to him."
After spending New Year's in New York City, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ethen was admitted to an MUSC intensive-care unit Jan. 23 after suffering seizure-like symptoms at home. He remained there in a coma with a dire prognosis. However, his mother sang him Bible songs, and his family remained constantly beside him.
"We know he's in there," Todd said at the time. "We haven't lost all hope."
Ethen returned home Feb. 11 and has awakened, now able to communicate through blinks. He also can laugh, smile and cry. This week he began to move his arms.
Previous fundraisers by Feinzig's daughter, Bella, a fellow Pinckney Elementary student, allowed the Richardsons to buy a wheelchair for Ethen this week. Saturday's movie-making party will mark his first big outing since returning home, Feinzig said.
The free event also features comedian Dusty Slay along with food, karaoke and other fun. The public is encouraged to attend.
Participants may bring Team Ethen signs, their best dance moves and their finest family friendly jokes. Volunteer student videographers from Wando High School's Tribe Talk will videotape, edit and produce the film for Ethen.
Next up, the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms will host a fundraiser called the Team Ethen Hope Jam: Party with a Purpose from 7 to 11 p.m. on March 29.
Weird Science, a 1980s cover band, will perform. Tickets cost $10. The event includes an auction.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.