Sept. 19, 1997, is the day that changed everything for Mitch McVicker. On that Friday night McVicker was in a tragic car accident with his friend Rich Mullins who died at the accident scene. McVicker was left in a coma with a slim chance of full recovery.
(Mullins is known for writing Christian hits like “Awesome God” and “Step by Step” among others. He was a skilled musician who earned many industry awards, but who was also known for his generosity and humility.)
“I can’t think about my future or my past without thinking of that (accident),” McVicker says. “I have no doubt the Spirit has used this to draw me closer to Him. I’m finding that out everyday.”
McVicker will perform this Saturday, June 26, at 3 p.m. in La Follette Park, Kaukauna, during St. Mary’s Parish Festival. A free-will offering will be collected during the concert.
McVicker came out of his coma after several days and is still recovering, although his progress has stunned doctors, family, and friends. McVicker still has double vision but he says it is much better than it was 15 months ago.
He says his singing voice is not back to its pre-accident level, but he has been performing since 1998 and is making plans to begin recording his next album at the end of this year.
“I’m recovering at a steady pace but it’s so slow I don’t notice it day to day or week to week,” McVicker says. He says the frustrating part is wondering if his singing voice will ever come back fully. “I’m fine if this is where it’s at, but it’s hard when that’s what you do for a living. (My voice) is something I leaned on and it can be difficult to lose that.”
Overall, McVicker says he is very thankful to God and to all the people who have prayed for him since the accident, but some questions still hound him. “I still wonder ‘Why am I here? Why me?’” he says.
McVicker says his personality has been affected too. “I get a lot more mad --- I’m much more emotional,” he says.
Organizers of Saturday’s concert say they have been planning since last October. “Mitch is a talented musician and song-writer yet is a very ‘down to earth’ guy,” says Nathan Vande Hey, co-chair of the committee organizing the concert. “We are excited to offer a concert that will share the Gospel message and lift people up.”
Julie Burkart, the other co-chair, says she hopes teenagers, families and others who enjoy good music will come to the concert. “Mitch’s message of love and hope is one we all need to hear,” she says.
McVicker has been a professional musician for four years and he says he owes his career to the late Mullins.
The two men met in a class at Friends University, Wichita, and started to “hang out,” McVicker says.
“I was stunned at how real he was,” McVicker says. “I knew who he was but he never let on to others who he was or what he was about.”
“He asked me to work with him and we began playing and writing songs together. I know that’s why I’m at the level (of success) I’m at today,” McVicker says. Their first project together was a musical, “Canticle of the Plains,” based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi but they placed their character, Frank, in the American Old West.
McVicker says he enjoys the career Mullins helped launch. “I love interacting with the people and communicating about something that’s life-changing,” he says.
They were working on McVicker’s first album the night of the accident. McVicker says he cannot describe the influence Mullins has had on his life.
“The impact Rich has had is so far-reaching I don’t even know how to explain it,” he says. “He taught me a lot about what it means to love without expectation... I’m really thankful to have been around his passion and simplicity. He had a way of making the very simple profound, and the profound very simple.”
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