During the central Ohio’s 2013 National Philanthropy Day celebration, one of the marquee awards went to someone who wishes that he had never been in the running for the honor to begin with. Dr. Mark King, a central Ohio radiologist, won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Judges Award. However, he reminded everyone who was present that the charitable work that earned him the award didn’t actually come about from some altruistic desire to serve the community.

Sadly, the trigger, as mentioned by him, was a tragedy that he would have done anything to avoid. In early April 2013, a fire was set off by an arsonist. The fire swept through a house in the University District, which killed Christine Wilson, a 19-year-old student at Ohio University, along with four other college students who were innocently attending a birthday party. Up till today, the case still remains unsolved.

It turns out that Christine actually grew up next door to Mark in Dublin. Aside from being his neighbour, she also assisted him by being a babysitter for his three children. In fact, both Mark and his wife thought of her almost like a daughter. “Nothing could have prepared me for the grief I felt on that day in 2003,” he shared with the audience in the packed ballroom at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown. He went on to add that he was just as unprepared as to how the effort to cope with that grief would change his life.

Mark, who was actually an accomplished pianist way before becoming a radiologist, decided to record a CD, entitled “Christine’s Christmas”, to raise money for a foundation established in her memory. “Everybody loves Christmas, but she had kind of a special connection to it,” he said. The album went on to sell 2,000 copies over two weeks. After the good response from the CD sales, Mark decided to perform most of the songs from the album at a benefit concert in December 2004. Since then, a tradition was born, where Mark will perform there every year and draw in bigger and bigger audiences. So far, the event has already outgrown two venues and raised more than $300,000 for youth charities in the area. His annual contribution to the charities has resulted in him achieving the award. For the full story, you can read it here.

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