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)
Tags: Taylor Hicks, American Idol, Soul Patrol, Taylor's Angels