KP woman brings Christian band to Gig Harbor


Rodika Tollefson and Marsha Hart, KP News

SONICFLOOd, a Christian band based in Nashville, will perform a benefit concert at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor May 30 and 31. Proceeds will go to research to find a cure for Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis. Photo courtesy SONICFLOOd

On May 30 and 31, Gig Harbor’s Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church will rock to the sounds of SONICFLOOd, a Grammy-nominated Christian band based in Tennessee. The performance is the mastermind of Key Peninsula resident Elaine Hettick, who organized the concert in the memory of her nephew, Jaxon Abalahin.

Jaxon died last October at age 8 ½ after a struggle with Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE). His family and friends had created an organization called Jaxon’s Cure in order to raise awareness about this incurable disease, and to help find a cure. The concert was a present to Jaxon for his 8th birthday, but it had to be postponed after his grandfather’s death last year.

Hettick says she wanted to find a way to raise money for the organization, and presented the concert idea to Jaxon, who loved it. Although she didn’t have any event planning background, she decided to contact a handful of bands whose names were on a CD she had. The lead singer of SONICFLOOd, Rick Heil, replied to her personally. Heil himself had an incurable disease that he overcame.

“He gave me hope,” Hettick said. “If he had a miracle and was cured, I thought, you never know what could happen (for Jaxon).”

Heil said he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 11. After suffering for years with the disease, and enduring surgeries and chronic pain he said a doctor, Dr. Church, performed an exploratory surgery. Heil was 39 years old and had lived for years with no hope, wishing he would die, he said.

Jaxon at age 5, shortly before he started showing symptomps of SSPE. Photo courtesy Abalahin family

“ I had two other operations before that and had about 8 feet of my intestines taken out,” Heil said. “The doctors had said if they operated again I would be hooked up to a machine for rest of my life and the doctors were not real encouraging. Dr. Church did an investigative surgery, found scar tissue from previous surgeries and didn’t find signs of Crohn's disease.”

Heil said just prior to that he had surrendered his life to Jesus, and the pain in his heart was taken away. His desire to die was gone and he found hope. He said he decided if God could heal his heart, he could also heal his body. It is with this hope and belief that SONICFLOOd decided to play for the benefit concert, he said.

“Any time we get a chance to be a part of something bigger than just a concert we’re jumping on it because of our focus, because we worship and point people toward Jesus and when He was on earth He healed the sick,” Heil said.  “Be part of something that is going to be fantastic, and help this family see the dream that God has put in their hearts to have this disease irradicated. It is brilliant what scientists are doing with medicine these days so there is a possiblitiy of elimating that disease.”

SONICFLOOd has performed all around the world and has received numerous Dove awards. The group has eight albums and has sold more than 2 million records.

Hettick says they hope to raise $70,000 from the event, which will take the organization well on its way to raising a total of $150,000 needed to fund research for three years. Her two daughters, Erika, 11, and Shawna, 9, have become spokespersons of sorts, giving presentations at area churches about the organization and the concert to sell tickets.

Jaxon’s parents, Paula and Oscar Abalahin, live in Port Orchard. “We promised Jaxon we will not stop (looking for a cure),” Oscar said.