Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ken is now singing with the angels

By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Staff Volunteer

Upon hearing of the recent unexpected passing of one of our stroke survivors, Ken West, I was immediately sad … yet was just as quickly glad that I had been hanging around with my video camera during our Dignity Health-sponsored camp in Prescott, AZ, last May.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again that I witness so many miracles at every Stroke Camp. One of those revealed itself as Ken was encouraged to play the keyboard with music therapist Amy Baumert during free time Saturday morning. Ken had severe aphasia — difficulty with receptive or expressive communication — and yet, with the magic of music, he could sing many of those well-learned songs of life. He is just one of many, many examples of why music therapy is such an important part of the Stroke Camp experience.

He practiced with Amy, and then performed in front of the entire camp on Sunday morning. I was captivated by his deep voice and how much he had achieved. Most of all, I loved his laugh, especially when he was laughing at himself. And the applause after his presentation was so genuine and rich, filling each of us with deep joy and even a few tears.

Please take two minutes of your precious time to listen to Ken, an extraordinary man beloved by so many. Our deepest sympathy to his wife Carla and family. He was a gift to all of us …

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