The concert was an evening to remember. The auditorium holds almost 1100 people, and as the evening began, it looked like a full house. Megan and her family were in the front center rows.
Greetings were given by the Mayor of East Providence (a position which Meganís Dad once held), and the MC began with the nightís choral event. His theme was to wear different hats indicating the various periods of time when the songs performed were popular.
The lights went down, the curtains opened, and the stage was filled with 140 members of the East Providence Community Chorus. These men and women, representing all age groups and walks of life, were volunteering their time to sing for Megan and the community. They stood there on stage in formal attire (black tuxedos and evening gowns). The stage lights reflected off their eyes and their smiles, but there was a unique multi-colored sparkle glistening on all of their chests,......they all came out on stage wearing Megan pins!
I wonít tell you all of the songs they sang, but they sang from their hearts and from their souls. They sang the songs we all remember, or, have heard about, and they filled the auditorium with memories and good feelings.
Twice, Ann Quinn came out for a solo. Ann is the Haywardís neighbor, and the Godmother of Megan and Kelsey. Annís rendition of "Always" and "Impossible Dream" truly depicted what many of us have felt for our own loved ones as well as for Megan and her family.
Nicole Viau sang in a duet "Old Fashion Wedding" which bears note since she was the woman who let Kelsey and Megan play with her wedding bouquet (prop) a few days before when we were there for the rehearsal. She is just one of the many examples of how members of this chorus have reached out to personally "touch" Megan and her family.
Another soloist was Julie Walsh. She sang "In My Life" which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles from their Rubber Soul Album. If you remember the 60's, you remember this song. Here are some of the words:
There are places Iíll remember
We all have friends and places and things which we remember. What was moving about the words of this song, is that a 3 year old girl could do so much to remind us of what is good about life, what is important, and what is most precious. Each song the chorus sang, brought some kind of memory to everyone in attendance. We might individually recall different memories, but Ron Procopioís solo of "Go The Distance" and the last 2 choral arrangements "America The Beautiful" and "I Am America" probably had everyone thinking very similar thoughts.
Just before the end of the night, the entire Hayward family was called up to the stage: Mark & Nancy, Patrick, Kelsey and Megan. The entire audience rose in a standing ovation for this courageous family. Mark had words of Thanks to offer to the chorus, the community and a few individuals who had helped the Megan Fund. He told us all the story, how it all began, and what it was like to spend countless nights, weeks and months worrying about his daughter; hospitals, clinics, tests, medications, operations, (and this is only the beginning). He told us how overwhelmed they all were with the amount of support which has come from the community. Finally, with his family at his side, 140 chorus members standing behind him, and 1100 people in front of him, he said the only thing which could begin to truly express how he felt. He said, "Thank You!"
Next up was the drawing for the "split the pot with Megan". Raffle tickets had been sold at the beginning of the concert, and the winner would get to "split the pot" of the proceeds. The first ticket number was called,... no one claimed it. The second ticket number was called,....no one claimed it. Just before the third ticket number was called, someone stood up in the back of the auditorium and shouted, "Give it all to Megan!" The third ticket number was called,....no one claimed it. The audience finally decided (via the democratic process) that no more ticket numbers should be called, and that the entire proceeds from the raffle should be donated to the Megan Fund. One might think that it was just the spirit of the evening which prompted this outpouring of generosity. I donít think it was the events of the evening,...these were truly Good people caring for the members of their community.
The evening ended on a high note (no pun intended). Congrats go out to the entire cast and crew of the East Providence Community Chorus. Ron Procopio (a long time friend of Mark) and his wife Ronnie deserve a lot of praise for having worked so hard on this event. Paula Haven-Fontes (Associate Director of the Chorus) was a music teacher at East Providence High School when Mark was a student there! (Sometimes,.... community follows you for life).
This concert raised approximately $4,000 for the Megan Hayward Fund. With the additional contribution from the Raffle of approximately $3,400. The total contribution is approximately $7,500!!! Thank you one and all!
As the auditorium was clearing out, one of the instrumentalists reached over to speak with Megan and Kelsey. Sandra Martineau, the violinist, was letting Kelsey "try out" her violin. She was there the night of the rehearsal and had let Kelsey "play" her violin, and was doing it again. Megan watched as her older sister made "squeaky" noises on the violin. Megan giggled. Any day which ends with the sound of Megan giggling is a day to be thankful for. "Thank You" Sandra, "Thank You" East Providence Community Chorus, "Thank You" members of the audience. You have all "Gone The Distance" in support of Megan and her family.******************
For a schedule of future concerts to be performed by the East Providence Community Chorus, please call 434-6304. We do know theyíll be performing at:
Tuesday June 22