Singing with a Purpose
When the final curtain fell on Melodies of Christmas 2011, Bob and Megan Sheridan thought it might be the Melodies finale for their family as well. After all, their son Ian, a singer for the past 11 years, was a high school senior. Once he graduated and went off to college, they thought he would have to give it up
But Ian just wouldn’t give it up.
|Melodies singer Ian Sheridan at the 2011 post-concert reception.|
“Of course I said no,” said the SUNY Oswego freshman, who has been a patient at the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders since he was three-and-a-half. . “I absolutely love being a part of the Melodies of Christmas. I honestly plan on coming back each year until they tell me I can’t.”
Ian is one of many veterans of the show who participate in this holiday event as a way to help others get the same expert and compassionate care they received.
“I will never forget the nurses and doctors who saved my life. When I was sick with leukemia, I had so much support from others and I do my best to give back. The feeling is phenomenal,” Ian said.
Sixteen-year-old Hayley Mattice shares that feeling. She became a Melodies singer in 2001, the same year she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While she admits the free cookies were quite a draw, she quickly realized what being one of the singers really meant.
“By being part of Melodies, I am able to represent something much bigger than myself. Our singers symbolize hope and strength,” she said.
|Melodies singer Hayley Mattice during a 2011 Melodies of Christmas performance.|
This year, Hayley is adding to her performing time. She has earned a place with the Empire State Youth Orchestra Chorale. While she will be with the chorale during the entire performance, she still plans on standing with her Melodies friends to sing Silent Night.
“When I am on stage with the other Silent Night singers,” she said, " I feel so strong because I am standing amongst the strongest people I have ever met.”
Nick Bowen, at 25-years old, is the senior member of the Melodies singers. He saw his first Melodies show while he was undergoing his first round of chemo for an inoperable brain tumor. He remembers his mother’s tears that night.
“She was crying tears of joy for the survivors, tears of sadness for those who had passed, and tears of hope for kids like me,” he remembers.
|Melodies singer Nick Bowen was the emcee at last year's post-concert banquet.|
Just a few years later, Nick walked proudly onto the Proctor’s stage as a Melodies singer, a place he’s now stood since 2003, saying he feels so much gratitude toward those who have helped him, and is honored to be able to give back.
The Melodies of Christmas has created a bond between singers like Ian, Hayley, Nick, and all the Melodies kids. It’s less about the diseases they’ve battled and more about the family they’ve become - older singers becoming mentors and role models for the younger.
“These are friends who I love being around and look forward to seeing every year,” Ian said.
The connection between the singers and the one they create with an appreciative audience is what makes the Melodies of Christmas an unforgettable holiday tradition.
This year’s Melodies of Christmas performances are December 20-23 at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady. For tickets, please visit the Proctor’s Theatre box office, www.Proctors.org, or call 518-346-6204.
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