June 30 – Day 18: Manchester to Nashville, Tennessee: Everybody Needs A Helping Hand

Today we had the tremendous honor and pleasure of meeting Amy Grant (http://amygrant.com) after a fine ride across the beautiful Tennessee countryside. We were a bit nervous on the way to meet such an accomplished singer and songwriter – 30 million albums sold, 25 Dove Awards, six Grammy Awards. We have several of her songs on our iPhones for the ride, including “Everybody Needs A Helping Hand,” “Children of the World,” and “Better Than A Hallelujah.” Amy, who performed at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend last March with Michael W. Smith on their “2 Friends Tour,” is a friend and longtime supporter of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. We were so excited to meet with her today.

Amy Signing the Van

Ally, Renate, Amy, and Greg

As soon as we met Amy, we weren’t nervous any more: she was so welcoming and down to earth and so generous with her time that we felt at ease right away. When we asked her how she got involved with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, she explained that she read Cindy and Mike’s story in People magazine not long before Cindy invited her to perform at an event. She told us about the Parseghian children, Marcia and Christa, and her relationship with them. She told us about another NPC boy, Kevin, with big eyes and blond hair, who rode with her in a golf cart at an NPC event. She bumped the cart into a big curb and turned quickly to make sure Kevin was all right. He said, “I am OK, but I was worried about you!” Her memories of that kind boy are really special.

Amy is a firm believer that there is an upside to every hard thing, even when the difficulty is so intense that the positive effect takes time to appear. The Parseghian family’s immense suffering – the loss of three beautiful children – had a ripple effect throughout the medical profession and the Notre Dame community. Cindy and Mike are a beacon to all the families struggling with NPC, and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation is a great place for people to find connection and support, as well as a vital contributor to the search for a cure.

We talked about Amy’s music and how some of her songs have been embraced by the NPC community, especially “Everybody Needs A Helping Hand” and “Children of the World.” Amy said the connection fulfills her dream as a songwriter to touch people’s lives in a meaningful way. She gets so much satisfaction when fans tell her how perfectly she captured their own feelings in a song. Amy certainly practices what she sings:

“Everybody needs a helping hand
Take a look at your fellow man
And tell me what can I do today

‘Cause everybody needs a helping out
If that ain’t what it’s all about
Tell me what, what can I do
What can I do today?”

She took a look at those young children in the magazine years ago and reached out a helping hand. She’s still doing it for the hundreds of children waiting for us to find a cure. We are so fortunate to have Amy as a friend and supporter in the fight against NPC. From now on, that song in our ears will have even more meaning as we ride on the Road to Discovery. Thank you, Amy, for all you do for the NPC community.

A Helping Hand

Hut, Hut, Hike!

On the Road to Discovery

1 Comment so far

  1.    Cecilia on July 2nd, 2011

    Dear Dean and Mrs. Crawford,

    Thank you for what you’re doing to raise awareness of NP-C and other neglected diseases. I was wondering if there were a way to purchase your Notre Dame Science bike jerseys and shorts? Thanks,
    Cecilia Brown ’92 Biology