Fifteen years ago, Baxter and his daughter Ashley rescued Vedder and five others after their sailing canoe overturned on the Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai. The crew remained alongside the boat for hours until a broken mast allowed it to right itself and half the group was able to get back on board. However, they’d lost their paddles and a gust of wind pushed the boat out of reach before Vedder and two others could climb aboard.
The Baxters happened to be riding their boat on the channel at the same time when Ashley told her father she heard voices in the water. The two were able to track down Vedder and his friends and find the errant canoe. At a 2013 concert, Vedder recounted the story and brought out Ashley before dedicating “Future Days” to her.
Pearl Jam’s gift to the Baxter family, however, is not a belated thank you. The money will help cover Baxter’s own medical costs after a rusty anchor nearly severed his leg in a boating accident. Per a GoFundMe page, the injury has since caused a life-threatening infection, but Baxter’s insurance plan does not cover the necessary treatments. Even with the treatment, Baxter still might lose his leg.
Baxter’s family had already raised $70,000 before Pearl Jam matched the number. The group made the donation after Ashley happened to run into Kacky Ovrom Chamberlain, another member of the boating crew from 15 years earlier, who then got in touch with Vedder.
Vedder has been in an especially generous mood this December, donating $10,000 to a Maryland family facing eviction whose story went viral after the mother posted on Craigslist asking for help to buy her children Christmas presents.
“I was just so moved by the story and what this mother did for her children,” Vedder told the Washington Post. “I thought those kids must be so proud of their mother for reaching out. That takes a lot of courage.”