Concert celebrates fire victim's love of Christmas

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Mark King still remembers the last time he saw Christine Wilson. It was more than five years ago, and he was teasing her about coming to visit her at college.

"She told me that my wife and I could come any time," said King, a family friend. "I remember very vividly her standing in front of our house and having the conversation with her."

Wilson, of Dublin, was one of five people killed in a house fire on East 17th Avenue near Ohio State University in the early morning hours of April 13, 2003. She was a 19-year-old sophomore at OSU.

After her death, King channeled his feelings into music and created a Christmas CD he shared with Wilson's family. The Dublin resident eventually sold 2,000 copies of the CD and raised $20,000 for the Christine Wilson Foundation.

The CD has since evolved into an annual concert in Wilson's honor.

"She had a couple great loves -- Christmas and the holidays, and she really loved and enjoyed being around children. Like they say, Christmas is for children. This brings together two things she was greatly involved with in her memory," said Wilson's father, Tim.

Christine's Christmas Concert will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday at Dublin Jerome High School, 8300 Hyland-Croy Road.

King, a radiologist at Ohio State University Medical Center, will play the piano. Accompanying him will be vocalist Denise Alexander, cellist Nathan Kufchak and King's 14-year-old niece, Carolyn, also a vocalist.

"The concert, to me, is very emotional and inspirational," King said. "I think the audience feels that way as well. People see the unique nature of the event.

"It's very uplifting," King continued. "It's very hard for me to describe. To me, it's kind of like a dream. It captures the essence of Christmas, which is a baby. It's the most defenseless creature there is and the circumstances the baby comes to the Earth. It's about stripping away everything that ties us to our earthly existence and reminds us about what the whole thing is about.

"It's about peace."

Tickets to the concert are $50 for adults and $20 for children. This includes a reception and silent auction immediately following the concert from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Tartan Fields Golf Club, 8070 Tartan Fields Drive.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the center for child and family advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

King's CD, which inspired the concert, will be available for $15. People also can bid on about 45 auction items including sports memorabilia, use of a townhouse in Naples, Fla., for a week, a four-hour limousine ride and a plasma television.

The event attracted more than 350 people last year and raised $25,000. King is "cautiously optimistic" that the event will top last year's totals.

"The concert doesn't sound all that unique," King said, "but you have to see it and feel it to understand it. When I wrote these songs I really didn't write out arrangements. I wanted it to come spontaneously. I opened myself up. It's because I was inspired. I received true inspiration and when you receive true inspiration things happen at a different level. It's rare and I was really lucky to have it."