Spartan Daily

California News

Concert held to benefit child with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

By Rebecca Villaneda, Daily Staff Writer

March 03, 2003

Leaving inhibitions behind, children young and old danced at the "I Am" benefit concert for Kaitlyn Langstaff at a Santana Row courtyard on Saturday afternoon.

Langstaff just turned 9 years old Tuesday. The concert was not only to raise donations and create awareness, but also to celebrate her life.

Langstaff suffers from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome which was brought on by an allergic reaction to Children's Motrin, her father Brad Langstaff said.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is an auto-immune disease that caused her to lose her skin and mucous membrane forming blisters and lesions throughout her body that resembles second-degree burns, he said.

Kaitlyn has lost her eyesight and is now legally blind in both eyes as a result of her bout with toxic epidermal necrolysis, which is a more serious form of the syndrome. The disease has left her unable to speak or eat regular food. She breathes bottled oxygen through a tube in her neck and has a feeding tube in her stomach and communicates with the aid of an electronic larynx, her father said.

"The breathing machine has slowed her down a little, but her spirits are incredible and she is 100 percent aware of what is going on," Langstaff's father said.

Romeo Durscher and Erica Weil of Rock 101 Promotions came up with the benefit concert after reading Langstaff's poem that was printed in the San Jose Mercury News in November.

"I read this beautiful poem and thought, 'hey, this should be made into a song,' " Durcher said. "So we had Miggs, one of the bands we are managing, record the song. Then the idea avalanched into a benefit concert."

An appearance was made by San Jose Vice Mayor Pat Dando, who said as adults people must take the time to learn from children's strength, courage and positive thoughts.

"Kaitlyn is active in the student council at her school and said she wants to be the first female president," Dando said. "Just give me some time before you start running for local politics, Kaitlyn."

Between performances by Rock 101 Promotion's artists like Ama, Sweet Duration and Miggs, the winners of a poem contest recited Langstaff's favorites.

The contest was inspired by the poem that Langstaff wrote, titled "I Am," which inspired the song and benefit concert.

"We were excited when the idea was proposed, because by that point we had already had coverage from the Mercury (News), and we were used to the media attention," said Langstaff's father. "Then we met the Miggs and producer Robert Berry, and Kaitlyn had such a great time in the studio with them while they recorded the song, so we went ahead and said yes to the concert."

At the end of the concert the Miggs performed the song that contained the words from Langstaff's poem called "I am the same inside."

"Here's the moment we've all been waiting for," said lead singer Don Miggs. "We want to say thank you to Kaitlyn for inspiring us all."

A CD was made specially for this event and proceeds will go to help cover the medical, equipment, technology, household and travel expenses that Kaitlyn's syndrome has brought on thus far.

The event ended with "Happy Birthday," which brought back all the musicians on stage and the whole Langstaff family.

Brad Langstaff, teary-eyed, thanked everyone for coming and for their support.

"Thank you everyone who has been there for us because it has enabled us to take our time with Kaitlyn," he said. "Anyone who doesn't think there is a community here is wrong because the support has been phenomenal."

With the help of her electronic larynx, Kaitlyn spoke to the crowd of family, friends and supporters, "Thank you everyone who has been praying for me and who came to the concert."