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Phuket musician in charity drive for son



PHUKET: Rino Mangon Vogt, 10, is a boy who knows he could die before the end of this year.

Rino is suffering from a rare and congenital heart condition known as Ebstein’s Anomaly. Usually present at birth, this life threatening anomaly can show itself at any time, even into adulthood.

The cause lies within one of Rino’s heart valves, which is enlarged and in the wrong position, causing blood to leak back into the heart. Left untreated, the heart degenerates and blood clots form, giving rise to strokes, tissue damage and, in many cases, death.

Rino’s father, musician, songwriter and film-maker Ritchie Newton, is determined to save his son. He spends 18-hours-a-day working to raise the money needed for a life-saving operation for Rino.

He has formed Rino’s Heart Foundation – a registered trust to handle donations – and is organizing sponsorships, performances and events using every ounce of his love and energy to raise the funds needed.

“I will never forget the night we came back from Bangkok in June after checking Rino’s heart with a cardiologist. The diagnosis was devastating,” said Ritchie.

“Rino was exhausted from all the tests and went straight to bed. I felt so helpless, so angry and sad. I asked myself over and over, ‘What the hell can I do to save his life?’

“I looked in at Rino sleeping… I vowed to move heaven and earth for my lovely boy. I was going to do whatever it took. I was not going to allow him to die. And this was the moment that his song came into my heart.”

The song, Together We Are Strong, was recorded by Ritchie the following day in his studio, and later with musicians from all over Koh Samui, including the choir from Rino’s school.

“This was the hardest song I have ever written. I cried my heart out with every line I wrote,” said Ritchie

The song and the charity Ritchie founded aims to raise the two-million baht needed to cover Rino’s open-heart surgery and the aftercare that will need to follow.

To raise more funds Ritchie is organizing Rock4Rino, an all-day family music festival on Koh Samui on October 24, as well as many other community events.

Ritchie has already approached Thai reggae legend Job2Do and has confirmed bands including Ovada Showband, Rock Angels, Siam Band and Climax Band to perform at the Samui benefit.

When asked what message Ritchie wanted to put out to Gazette readers, he said “How many parents and kids have to go through what we are now going through? We need everyone’s help to reach our target, so please help us in any way at all. Remember there are lives depending on it.”

“First I must save my son, but if there is more money I want to continue helping any child who has this condition,” Ritchie said.

Visit the website for more information.

— Marc Mulloy


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