Marie Morris shares her experience of the Move 4 Parkinson’s “Dare to Dream” concert:
Following release of their worldwide-acclaimed single, “Something Inside So Strong”, we were eager to hear the Voices of Hope Choir singing live at the ‘Dare to Dream’ Concert held at the Stillorgan Park Hotel on the 23rd of May. We were looking forward to an enjoyable and memorable night’s entertainment but the sense of shared community and support Move 4 Parkinson’s encountered went way beyond our expectations.
We stayed overnight at the hotel as we live in Kilkenny. Hotel staff added to the overall experience with their excellent services including a courtesy pickup and transport from the railway station earlier that day. Choice of venue for the concert was ideal. Judging by the camaraderie, infectious banter and sheer joy which spontaneously developed as the evening progressed, the 250 plus people lucky enough to get hold of tickets for this ‘not to be missed’ concert, were also in agreement.
After a warm welcome from (for me, the unforgettable) Dr Emma Stokes, we were treated to a bonanza of non-stop entertainment helped along by a very funny but able compere, Paschal. No easy feat with such a lively audience. Strong performances from well known celebrities included singer/songwriter Shay Healey, Niamh Kavanagh and Kevin Sharkey, not to mention the Band of An Garda Siochana whose talented singers and instrumentalists were individually recognized by Bandmaster, Pat Kenny. They were given resounding applause as were the Voices of Hope Choir supported by the A Gior Gospel Choir, conducted by the wonderful Jennifer Grundalis.
A short interval offered further opportunity for meeting and greeting friends. The second half of this feast of music and song continued to delight the audience of happy, swaying, hand clapping, toe tapping and dare I say ………’singing together’ family members and friends of all ages and abilities. The evening’s entertainment was finally brought to a close with Nikki Hegarty’s memorable vote of thanks to all who had supported the event including sponsors, performers and volunteers, with a special tribute to Mags. Nikki’s sincerity and admiration for her mother’s achievements in particular, but directed also to everyone with Parkinson’s who ‘dared to dream’, brought tears to my eyes. The audience needed little encouragement to join in with the Choirs final song and everyone who wanted to was helped to get up and dance in the aisles as the Choir sang ‘Something Inside So Strong’. The levels of audience participation were undoubtedly fuelled by the infectious sense of fun rippling round the room. It wasn’t quite enough to get my beloved on his feet although he was clearly enjoying the atmosphere. My exhibitionism embarrasses him at the best of times!
Before the concert began, it was so good to chat with people we had previously met including members of our (now internationally acclaimed!) choir whom we had sung alongside at the Empowerment Day. For me, that extraordinary day in June 2012 was where the dream began when I experienced first hand, Move 4 Parkinson’s inspirational philosophy of nurturing, support, positivity and hope for people like myself and my family who have no choice but to live with PD on a daily basis. Memories of that day are still fresh in my mind. The whole experience was transformational and one which continues to be reinforced as Move 4 Parkinson’s goes from strength to strength. This in no small part is due to the seemingly endless energy, focus and determination of one unique lady Margaret Mullarney with the support of a team of hard working volunteers. Mags ‘dares to dream’ and is one of the few people I know who actually practises what she preaches. Everyone with Parkinson’s will have a different ‘dream’ but with support of our families and each other we can empower ourselves to find our hidden resources. Parkinson’s will never rest but neither will we in striving to be seen as people who ‘can ‘ rather than people who ‘can’t’.
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