How an Andrea Bocelli Concert Led to an Online Friendship

A violinist's music soothes and excites my daughter, who has Rett syndrome

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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First in a series.

My dad absolutely loved listening to Andrea Bocelli, Frank Sinatra, and any musician of Italian descent. I wondered if he listened to Bocelli when he babysat with my firstborn, Cammy, when she was a baby, because she absolutely loves the singer’s music and his story.

I first realized how much Cammy, who has Rett syndrome, loved his voice during a snippet of “Sesame Street” in which the words of Bocelli’s single “Time to Say Goodbye” were changed to “Time to Say Goodnight” as Bocelli sang Elmo to sleep.

The “Sesame Street” episode was during Cammy’s Rett syndrome regression when she was 6 to 18 months old. It was so hard on her body. My dad would lay her on his big belly and watch that episode, and they both would be content. It was such a beautiful sight.

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In December 2014, when Cammy was 5 and old enough to appreciate her very first concert, my dad was living in a nursing home, where his body was failing him. I so much wanted to bring him to see Bocelli in that concert with Cammy, but maneuvering two wheelchairs into the concert was too difficult for me.

As I wheeled Cammy to the accessible seating at the suburban stadium, she took in the large venue as it was filling up. Bocelli commanded the stage in his elegant tuxedo and with flawless vocals. Cammy kept looking back and forth between the stage and the enormous screen to see him better.

Stealing the show

Bocelli’s musicians included Caroline Campbell, a stunning violinist. Cammy was utterly mesmerized by this woman. I couldn’t tell if Cammy was in awe of her beauty, her gorgeous gown, her music, or her hand movement. Since Rett syndrome robbed Cammy of the ability to use her hands, I wondered if she was stunned by Campbell’s motor skills. One thing was for sure, though — Cammy came for Bocelli, but fell in love with Campbell.

After the concert, Cammy had a smile glued to her face. The next day, we processed her first concert together. She’d loved hearing the live version of the Bocelli music she’d heard before. Cammy also wanted to hear more of Campbell’s work, so we found her on YouTube and watched, both in awe. I posted on Cammy’s Facebook page about her experience at that first concert.

Several days later, Cammy and I were in Boston for a leg of the IGF-1 clinical trial she was participating in. I woke up to a message in Cammy’s inbox. It was from Campbell. She’d read the Facebook post and wanted to connect with Cammy.

I was completely shocked. Campbell asked if she could send Cammy some personal videos of her playing Cammy’s favorite songs on her violin. She also wanted Cammy and me to be her special guests the next time she and Bocelli were playing in Chicago. When I told Cammy, her eyes lit up as if she’d won the lottery.

Campbell began sending Cammy messages and music. Cammy felt so special. It was such a beautiful thing for Campbell to reach out and provide joy to my little girl.

Cammy and I couldn’t wait for the next concert. We couldn’t have dreamed up a more incredible experience than our second Bocelli concert in 2016.

Next week: That second Bocelli concert.

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


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