The Voice

Kenny and I went to see Aaron Neville perform at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville on Saturday night.  What a show!  What a voice!  There has never been and will never be anyone else like him.

One of the first songs he sang was "Don't Know Much:" He and Linda Ronstadt sang that song as a duet many years ago.  That was the first time I'd really listened to Neville sing, though Kenny and I had seen Ronstadt in concert.  That duet was beautiful.

Aaron Neville sang it as a tribute to Linda Ronstadt who has lost the ability to sing due to symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

The Voice.  THAT VOICE. "Blue Bayou," "You're No Good," "Different Drum."  Such an easy voice to listen to.  Parkinson's silenced Ronstadt's voice before anyone was ready to stop listening.    All because, one day, neurons in her brain began to go haywire.

Lou Gehrig was silenced but not before he expressed his belief that he was "the luckiest man" in the world.  His courage gave all other with ALS a voice.

Voices are silenced every day - Parkinson's, ALS, Huntington's.  The list is short but powerful.  The diseases that steal and destroy with impunity.  No, or few, treatments, and no cure.  What is certain is the outcome and the devastating effects for families and friends.

I am thankful for the voice of Marjorie Guthrie, who sat with a few others at her kitchen table and began an organization that is now the Huntington's Disease Society of America.  Because of her determination to do something - to voice outrage at the disease that silenced her husband, Woody Guthrie - the genetic marker for HD was discovered in 1993.     I am thankful for the men and women who tirelessly work to find a cure for all these dreadful diseases.

I can imagine that one day soon, a researcher some where will stop and look again at the data and know that "faith has become sight."   I believe that once the door is open to treating or curing one of these neurological thieves, they will all begin to fall like a line of dominoes.   We are each of us a voice - THAT VOICE - for our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives.  What we say and do matters to them.  How we give and advocate makes a difference.  We are the voice for the voices that are silenced.

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