Young Violinist Raises $6,700 for Speed the Light Project
When 15-year-old Elaina Haroldson of Impact Ministries AG church in Wheatland, Wyoming, prayed about how much money to raise for Speed the Light this year, she was sure the Holy Spirit told her $5,000 — but she had no idea how to accomplish it.
“Usually, our youth group sets a collective goal to raise,” says Haroldson, noting that last year they raised $27,000 together through events such as a 5K race.
But in 2023, Impact Ministries’ youth pastors, Jim and Paige Tolle, encouraged the young people to set individual goals.
“I said, ‘God, what do you want me to do?’” Haroldson says. “I’ve been working on being open and having enthusiasm for whatever God tells me to do.”
Still, she was “shocked and overwhelmed” by the $5,000 figure that came to mind.
“That’s a lot of window-cleaning jobs,” she said, referring to her summer job. “I said, ‘I trust you [God], but I really need some wisdom and knowledge about how to raise this money.’”
That wisdom came from her dad, Jeremy Haroldson, 37, senior pastor of Impact Ministries for the past eight years. Jeremy also serves as a Wyoming state legislator, representing house district 4. He suggested his daughter give a concert to showcase her talents as a violinist.
Haroldson has been playing the instrument since age 6, and has excelled in various forms of music, classical especially, and helps lead worship at their church. Her mom, Lori, 38, has driven her to the University of Wyoming, 60 miles south in Laramie, for weekly lessons from a professor of stringed instruments for four years.
“We are a very musical family and [violin] has blossomed into this wonderful thing I get to do,” Haroldson says. “I have such a passion for it. I enjoy playing with the worship team while also having fun and creating my own songs.”
She embraced the idea of a solo concert — her first — and spent the first half of 2023 developing more than an hour’s worth of music with the goal of taking the audience on a journey through her growth as an artist. Styles of music included patriotic, classical, Christmas, and Irish fiddle tunes. She also planned to use a looping pedal which allows her to layer lines of music on top of each other.
As to where the raised funds would go, she consulted with Wyoming AG district interim Next Gen director, Matt Baumgartner — and received additional inspiration from the recent movie, Sound of Freedom — and decided to direct all money she raised to the purchase of a mobile tattoo parlor which removes or covers tattoos for formerly-trafficked women, marked with a brand of slavery before being rescued. The service is offered by FREE International, a Las Vegas, Nevada, based ministry which combats human trafficking and supports survivors.
“I’ve always had a heart for missions,” Haroldson says. “There are so many broken people who need to know that a God out there loves them unconditionally. My goal was, if [the money] I raised could help just one person, then it was all worth it for me.”
She asked people to pledge a certain amount of money for every minute of music practice she performed for one week in July. She practiced 1,000 minutes — 16 hours — in that week in preparation for the concert. Then, on a Saturday that same week, 150 people gathered for the show at the Wheatland High School auditorium.
Haroldson’s nerves vanished as she let the music flow.
“It had to be God because the fear went away and it was just peace and joy playing for those amazing people,” she says.
Jeremy claims he and Lori “did nothing, really,” as their daughter planned the fundraising effort.
“We are incredibly proud and felt blessed to see people get behind her and the concept of Speed the Light. I believe it’s vitally important to allow the next generation to be part of bringing the gospel, and Speed the Light is a great way to do it.”
After the show, Haroldson received checks in the mail from people who watched online. She blew past her goal, with more than $6,700 coming in to support the mobile tattoo parlor.
“She inspires me to have a deeper walk with God by her relationship with God,” says Jeremy. “She’s mature beyond her years.”
Next year, Haroldson would like to put on another concert, this time incorporating performances from her own violin students.
In the meantime, she’s doing what she loves every Sunday at Impact Ministries, which owns an 11,000-square-foot mini-mall and is expanding to a 17-acre piece of property with new facilities in the future, to accommodate growth.
“My favorite thing to do is play with the worship team,” she says. “It’s where my hobby and my love for God meet together.”