Hip hop concert to raise money for 6-year-old boy with rare disease

JACKSON, MI - Carter Buffum enjoys listening to music. However, Carter can't tell you his favorite song or genre because he suffers from mitochondrial disease.

Carter, a 6-year-old Jackson native, is unable to walk or talk because of this rare disease but his mother, Sierra Buffum, knows music is something he's always enjoyed. This interest in music makes it a double win for Carter when he's honored during a benefit hip hop concert on May 16 at the Warehouse in Battle Creek. Nearly all of the proceeds from the show, dubbed Project Cypher 2, will go toward Carter's family and research in mitochondrial disease.

"Carter loves music so that's why this is even more exciting for us because any events that we've done in the past to raise money for research, the whole theme (has been) music," Sierra Buffum said. "Music notes on our cakes and our t-shirts and everything so it's super awesome that an artist contacted us to want to try to help him out and everything through his music."

That musical artist is 33-year-old Ryan Evans of Battle Creek. Evans, who goes by HighTyde as his stage name, has been a hip hop musical artist for 16 years and wanted to make a difference through his work on stage, leading to Project Cypher.

Evans orchestrated the event last year, raising $600 for a boy with epilepsy, and again this year wanted to help out through his music. Evans reached out to Scott Paige, executive director of Brighter Days Ahead, about finding another family for Project Cypher 2 and was put in touch with the Buffum's.

From there, Evans got in contact with the Sierra and Joshua Buffum, and began planning the event.

"Could I have reached out to someone in Battle Creek? Yeah sure, but I think the story of Carter and the Buffum family is something that touches me more emotionally," Evans said. "That's where charity starts; it has to hit you on the emotional level."

Mitochondria are contained in all cells except red blood cells and are responsible for creating the energy necessary to support life and sustain growth. In Carter's case, diseased mitochondria have resulted in a loss of motor control and resulted in cognitive impairment, cerebral palsy, seizures and gastro-intestinal disorders.

Almost all of the proceeds will go toward the Buffum's and mitochondrial disease research, with only booking fees for the venue being taken out of the sales. That includes sales from tickets, merchandise and a one night only Project Cypher mixtape.

The mixtape was a new addition this year, with other participating artists donating a few songs for the album. Some of the musical guests that will be performing include Erika Scherry, A.C.3 and Saint with La Famil. Evans said all 11 artists, including himself, are performing for no charge.

Tickets for the event are priced at $5 and can be purchased at the door or online. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.

Sierra Buffum said the family will be in attendance as long as Carter isn't in the hospital, and is already looking forward to the evening.

"I'm actually really excited to go to the event and see all performers that are going to be there," Sierra Buffum said. "They've all been a very active part of helping Carter too so I'm really excited to meet all of the groups."

Evans is also using this concert as a platform to shed some light on the positive impact hip hop music can have on a community.

"I'm trying to shake that stereotype that hip hop doesn't have to be a negative thing," Evans said. "It can do something good for the community and I'm trying to take that and merge it with helping and building the community rather than just having a hip hop show, end all be all. Let's do something for the community and make people want to get involved with this."