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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Taylor Hicks Inspires Life Without Limits





A community is like a tapestry. The most beautiful tapestries have many hues, woven together to make unique textures and designs. A community includes many different people, people of different abilities as well as people of different cultures and backgrounds. Everyone deserves to be an integral part of the fabric of life and to have the opportunity to live life without limits.

The community of Taylor Hicks fans called the Soul Patrol is like any other community in which we live, work, develop friendships and find comfort and love in family. We must do everything possible to bring our community together for each individual, particularly those that need a helping hand.

Taylor Hicks has certainly displayed his desire to lead us all in these efforts. His never ending desire to please his loyal and devoted community is evident in all he says and does. But his compassionate spirit is never more evident than when he encounters people who have disabilities. I have read numerous articles on his interactions with them and how he goes the extra mile to accommodate their desires and wishes.

Most recently, I interviewed a fan who had witnessed a wonderfully inspiring encounter between Taylor and a young boy who had a disability. She relayed her story to me in this manner:

Everyone was waiting outside Taylor’s dressing room for him to sign autographs. When he came out, I was standing on the side of a little boy who was in a wheelchair and was accompanied by his father. Taylor came out and immediately went over to the little boy and signed the CD his dad was holding. Then Taylor said to the child, “Hey, buddy, how are doing? You know what? I have a present for you so hold on a second.” Taylor turned around and asked someone to get his harmonica. He signed it and gave it to the boy, then retrieved the case from his pocket. Taylor then said, “Here you go… here is the case so you can play it.” Both Taylor and the child were smiling. Taylor appeared to be very happy to have made that impression on the little boy.

I have read and heard many such accounts of Taylor’s compassion like the one described above and have also had the opportunity to personally witness this kindness on several occasions.

I work for an organization that serves children with disabilities and provides services to one little girl who is a huge fan of Taylor’s. At a meet and greet that I had won, I took her picture and showed it to Taylor while I told him about her disability and her love for him. He immediately responded by asking her name and personalizing the items I had brought for him to sign. Additionally, he said he wanted her to have a picture of him, so he walked into another room, obtained a photograph and also personalized a message to this five year old child. Needless to say, when I returned to work and presented her Taylor’s gift, she was overjoyed!

I have been at several concerts during which Taylor made a pointed effort to acknowledge those in attendance with disabilities. At an American Idol concert, there was a young man in a wheel chair who was paralyzed from the neck down and who also needed a respirator to breathe. Security pushed him close to the stage so he could better see. When Taylor spotted him from the stage, he immediately went over to him and pointed, smiled and sang to him for a few moments, giving him his own private mini-concert. Also, during Taylor’s solo tour at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, the handicapped seating section was to the right of the stage. After performing and prior to leaving the stage, Taylor walked over to that section and made sure he shook everyone’s hand. Perhaps the most poignant moment for me occurred quite unexpectedly in Joliet, Illinois. Immediately after the final chord of the encore resounded, Taylor walked from the front of the stage directly into the audience and handed his harmonica to a small boy who had cerebral palsy and was seated in a wheelchair. I observed many people with tears in their eyes as they watched an American Idol acknowledge this precious child in such a manner. And then, once again at Birmingham’s Alabama Adventure in June, 2007, Taylor made a young woman in a wheelchair very happy when he again left the stage to hand her his harmonica. I observed that this woman required the assistance of a caregiver to eat or drink and spoke with the use of a communication device. Yet, though her lips were silent, the smile on her face spoke volumes.


Many people do not quite know how to interact with people with disabilities. Some speak loudly assuming they are hard of hearing while others simply look the other way. Taylor Hicks seems to have an innate ability to relate to them on a very personal level. In his book, Heart Full of Soul, Taylor talks openly of his troubled childhood and about his feeling of not fitting in, of feeling like an outsider and his feelings of being different. Those feelings led to loneliness and depression. Perhaps it is from those life experiences that Taylor Hicks has drawn character and pledged to give what he could to others that obviously feel “different”. Only Taylor knows the real inspiration behind why he treats those with disabilities so warmly and compassionately. But whatever the reasons, it is apparent that Taylor realizes these individuals have special gifts and deserve to be an integral part of the fabric of life.

Just as Taylor was given an opportunity of a lifetime through American Idol, an opportunity for which he longed for years, he knows that if given the right opportunity the struggles encountered by persons with disabilities become a limitless avenue by which their great abilities are revealed and the tapestry of our community invariably strengthened.

Taylor Hicks’ life has inspired others to dream of a life without limits. While his autobiography may be entitled “Heart Full of Soul”, Taylor’s life may also be characterized as a “Soul Full of Heart”. Indeed, his soul is filled with a heart of limitless compassion and caring for others.

Written by Tina (DidNotExpectThat)

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! After reading the first few chapters of the book last night - I can see where it comes from. Its from always be "different". I witnessed a private account between our group involving Taylor and a little girl. It is something that will remain in my heart forever.

Thank you for brining this to us in such a beautiful way.


Teri

RagsQueen said...

I, too, have seen Taylor's generosity with children and those with special needs. It made my heart swell to know that voting all those nights last year was the right thing to do because here was a man with a heart of gold, and as Tina said, 'a soul full of heart'. We need to take lessons from Taylor - he has definitely learned a few lessons from life and itn't afraid to use or show them. Perhaps it's because Taylor is an old soul trapped in a young body, but I hope he continues to do what he does. For Taylor it may be all about the music, but for us it's accepting the many gifts that come into our lives daily when we least expect it, and to learn to share with others.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories and reminding us that even young people can be full of heart & soul!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Taylor truly is a man whose heart is full of soul. Thank you for bringing this to us.

maryann1 said...

Tina....Thank for your beautiful words about a beautiful Soul....Taylor.
.He has a very compassionate heart and isn't hesitant to show how much he cares about those with disabilities. His music is very special to him and to us, but also his giving nature is what makes him the man that he is.

After reading his book, "Heart Full of Soul"...I now better understand what he endured and what he is doing now to reach out to those less fortunate comes from what he has learned from all those years of struggling to be accepted. His heart his full of generosity and understanding..

Thank you for your stories of Taylor and what you witnessed first hand how truly kind he is.

Sue said...

what a beautiful gesture Taylor made, but yet it did not surprise me. Taylor is such a super guy My fondest memory of Taylor was at GMA, after the show he went off stage and the very first person he said Hi to was my grandson. Taylor is so great to his little fans.. love ya and thanks for sharing that story with us hugs sue

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Tina, and so true. I love "Soul Full of Heart!" What a perfect description of Tay. I saw him give a harmonica to a woman in a wheelchair in Lancaster, he did it so quickly and without fanfare. The more I watch and read about how he handles himself, the more I'm convinced AMERICA GOT IT RIGHT! Thanks for these inspiring stories, I love telling them to people to give them a broader idea of why I/we think this man is SO SPECIAL!
-- flower

KarinP said...

This is a very well written and quite profound article. I enjoyed reading it very much.

There is a purpose for everyone's existence in this world. In the beginning of this wild ride, I always thought that Taylor's purpose was to bring people together who enjoyed his music. I now feel that he has a greater purpose and it is to show all of us that we should not fear what we do not understand especially when dealing with people/children who are "different" from the norm. If you look around at the many "souls" he has gathered, you will see that there is a common thread between the majority of Taylor's fans. They too have hearts full of soul, compassion and empathy. It is a "movement" that I personally feel that the world needs to notice. It is so simple - "Tay It Forward" - lend a helping hand and expect nothing more than the joy on the face of the person you have helped. Basically, it really comes down to the "Golden Rule".

I am so happy that Taylor has remained true to himself and did not fall into the trap of the music "business". It isn't all about the money; it is about the traces of humanity that we leave behind in this world.

Taylor is an excellent role model for all of the young people today. While it might take a bit more time to get "there", I don't think it really matters that much to him. It is the road he travels that gives his soul its gratification.

Many thanks for expressing your thoughts in such an articulate manner. Never fear the unknown - we just need to understand the unknown. Those who have to live with handicaps, in my mind, are the very unique and special souls who have come here to teach all of us.