Behind the bands: 5 year old boy inspires Salt Air Jam concert -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Behind the bands: 5 year old boy inspires Salt Air Jam concert

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – One local radio station is tying in the love of music to the love of family, all to promote awareness and raise money for a chronic illness.

From the parking lot, the building that is home to Zeus Digital Marketing is unassuming and simple. Inside, is another story.

The building hosts the hosts of Shag City USA and 94.9 The Surf. It is an open floor plan, where you can easily stumble into the middle of a live radio broadcast, complete with guests and cameras.

Behind the glass stands Jeff Gilder and his son, Dustin. The father-son duo mans the audio boards and technology spread across the room. There are actually three-generations of Gilder boys in the building, little Eli is underfoot playing with toy cars or whatever else grabs his attention and imagination.

“I'm not a stay-at-home dad, I work here with my dad, but I couldn't have a normal job because someone has to stay with Eli,” explained Dustin Gilder.

At first glance, Eli Gilder looks like any other five-year-old boy. He proudly shows off the bug he caught with his own hands and talks about how much he likes milkshakes.

However, Eli suffers from a silent disease.

“You wouldn't know he had it unless you put other 5 year olds next to him and he's a foot shorter,” his dad, Dustin Gilder, started to explain.

Eli was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth. For first-time dad, Dustin was terrified.

“I didn't know what Cystic Fibrosis was, I'd heard of it, but didn't know what it was. My first thought was to look it up on the internet…and the first thing you see is life expectancy of 14 years old,” recalled Dustin.

Through raising money and research, technology and medicine has advanced for people suffering with CF. Dustin Gilder pointed out the life expectancy is now 37 years old.

It isn't just Eli's height that is affected. Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that clogs the lungs and affects the digestive system. Eli takes up to 25 pills a day, along with two breathing treatments, inhalers and allergy medicine.

While currently there is no cure for CF, there is one thing the Grand Strand can offer to people suffering from the disease to relieve some of their symptoms: the salt air coming off the coast.

“Salt is like a magnet for water. So, if we can get more salt into him, the more fluid will be in his cells, which will be less mucus,” said Dustin, saying it makes it a little easier for people with CF, like his son, to breathe in the salt air.

It is also the name behind the concert which will raise money for CF patients like Eli.

“From this event we hope to create a foundation that carries this on as an annual event,” shared Jeff Gilder, Eli's grandpa.

The family, with their job and passion centered around beach music, is spearheading the Salt Air Jam.

Jeff Gilder explained the idea came from another member of the Zeus Digital Marketing team, a man who suffers from slight symptoms of CF because of a dominant gene in his body.

“We're involved in beach music and when we're out and people see our name Salt Air Jam benefiting Cystic Fibrosis, I've been surprised at the number of people that say they have CF or know someone with CF,” said Jeff. He hopes to raise money for local patients.

The Salt Air Jam is Saturday, June 13th at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex. The event will highlight multiple music acts, including Jim Quick and Coastline, The Entertainers, The Embers featuring Craig Woolard, and Steve Owens and Summertime.

More information can be found at

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