Singing for a safe haven

Dreams Come True concert raises funds for ill children

Jesse Hollett
Posted 2/1/17

FLEMING ISLAND – Sairah Hinkley’s singing career came to an abrupt stop when she was 18.ears old.

Hinkley was born with transposition of the great arteries, essentially meaning the two main …

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Singing for a safe haven

Dreams Come True concert raises funds for ill children

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Sairah Hinkley’s singing career came to an abrupt stop when she was 18.ears old.

Hinkley was born with transposition of the great arteries, essentially meaning the two main arteries in her heart were reversed. She had her first heart surgery at seven days old and her last at age 20, but it was a routine heart catheter operation when she was 18 that halted a budding singing career in its tracts.

Doctors inserted a balloon in her heart that got stuck. It lead doctors to induce a coma while they performed emergency heart surgery.

“It was a big surgery,” said Susanne Hodge, Hinkley’s mother. “She was basically cut in half.”

The surgery damaged her vocal chords, which would later come to develop granulomas. Her voice grew much deeper, eventually developing a rasp. The surgery had, in essence, snuffed out her singing career.

Among the wreckage, sat a list of annual concerts and periodic shows she would headline. Since she was 16, she had been involved in an annual benefit concert for the Jacksonville-based nonprofit Dreams Come True, which grants dreams for children living with life-threatening conditions. It appeared the show could not go on.

“It was a denial thing – there were few shows afterwards that were forced,” Hinkley said. “I knew I was done. It was a hard thing, but it happens.”

When Hinkley was 13, Dreams Come True sent her family on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. Hinkley, now 23, said opportunities for escape like those don’t come around for families living with a sick child.

Hinkley’s younger sister Sierra Frankie soon stepped up to fill her sister’s shoes to benefit the organization that once assisted Hinkley’s family. The family migrates from different states every year to host the concert where it all started. Hodge and Frankie live in North Carolina 30 minutes outside of the city of Boone.

The family will come together for their eighth concert at Whitey’s Fish Camp on Feb. 4 starting at 2 p.m. This year, the concert will benefit Kiya, a six-year-old living with cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy. Whitey’s will donate 10 percent of every food purchase directly to Kiya’s dream of going to Disney World. Joining them will be Green Cove Springs-based jazz singer Cortnie Frazier, who has been friends with the family since adolescence.

“Well this is something that my sister started a while back and I knew this was something she

looked forward to because this is something that it’s more personal than other fundraisers,” Frankie said. “The first concert was definitely intimidating because my sister made it was this big thing I was 10. It was definitely a little scary at first but after the concert was done it definitely felt like I had done something good.”

“I’m really proud of Sierra’s progress. It was really mainly Sariah that sang and then Sierra started getting into it and she stuck with it now it’s her passion and seeing her grow as a singer has been really cool to watch,” Frazier said.

The family doesn’t intend to stop the concerts, even though the concerts often hit home for Hinkley. In 2013, tragedy struck.

“Her name was Briana,” Hinkley said. “And she had her open heart surgery the day of my wedding and we were very close in her family… and I got a phone call at three a.m. saying she didn’t make it. That was definitely the hardest one for me, so I sang Amazing Grace for her… That was probably the last time I’ve sang for anybody.”

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