Non-stop harmony of young musicians to help grieving kids
With each note, young musicians playing to an audience at a crowded mall do their part to help create a sense of peace for grieving children.
An unbroken harmony has graced Palm Beach Gardens Mall the last five years during the holidays. And now, more than 150 talented music students from South Florida are polishing their instruments in anticipation of the sixth annual, 12-hourlong, Music-Thon on Saturday.
Guitarists, pianists, violinists and other musicians aged 5 to 17 years old will play non-stop to raise funds to direc tly benefit Camp VITAS, a bereavement camp that provides support to children and teens who have lost a loved one.
“It’s always very gratifying to perform at this event,” said VITAS Music Therapist Thomas A. Dalton, who leads the event each year. “The Music-Thon gives the performers an opportunity to use their talents to make a difference in the lives of others, and feel like they are a part of the healing process for these children in need.”
The Music-Thon runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with its well-known children’s guitar orchestra taking the stage at 12:30 p.m.
The local music students raise money through pledges and sponsors prior to the Music-Thon. The event is open to the public and donations during the Music-Thon are welcomed. Donations can also be made to https:// www.vitas.com/community-connection/camp-vitasdonation-form.
Some of the music teachers whose students are par- VITAS music therapist Thomas A. Dalton (second left), and the Broward music therapy team perform at last year’s annual Music-Thon fundraiser to benefit grieving children and teens. This year’s event is set for Saturday. ticipating in the Music-Thon are: Pat Johnson, Susan Dalhl be r g , Jo s e ph L a B o nt e and MaryAnn Rothchild /LaBonte, Sandra Baran, Azura and Michael Bies, and Sally Privett.
The musical fundraiser is sponsored by VITAS Communit y Connec tion, the charit able arm of VITAS Healthcare, a provider of end-of-life care. VCC provides assistance to hospice families in need through private donations and partners with musically gifted children in an effort to bring comfort to grieving youths.
“It’s tremendously gratifying to be part of this spectacular event that has been able to send more than 200 children in need of grief counseling to Camp VITAS for free,” Dalton said. “The fact that the music teachers and their students dedicate their time and talents to raise money for Camp VITAS is a very heartwarming experience. I really enjoy the performances of the extremely talented children, many of which are the best young musician in Palm County and the Treasure Coast.”
The Music-Thon began because of Dalton’s connection with MaryAnn Rothchild and Joseph Labonte of the Cambridge School of Music. They started collaborating many years ago to organize and produce this benefit event.
Dalton’s 20 years of music therapy experience includes helping children and adults use the power of music to help transform their lives. This is the sixth consecutive year of the fundraiser, which has helped raise thousands of dollars and enabled VITAS to send more than 200 grieving children to Camp VITAS free of charge.
The overnight camp — which will be held in January 2017 at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground in Orlando — is offered free of charge to 30 to 35 campers on a first-come, first-served basis and includes a ticket to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, all meals, transportation and camping equipment. The camp provides children with support and a safe environment while teaching them ways of coping with grief, according to a press release from VITAS Healthcare..
Camp VITAS recognizes that children’s grief may look different than that of adults, but it shares fundamental similarities as a physical and emotional reaction to the loss of a significant loved one, the release said.
If you know a child who needs bereavement support, inquire about attending Camp VITAS via Thomas. Dalton@vitas.com
Camp VITAS hosted grieving children and teens for the fifth consecutive year on April 8-9 this year. The grief camp, which reached full capacity, was funded by VITAS’ fifth annual Music-Thon fundraiser held in December 2015 at The Gardens Mall.
VITAS Healthcare held its fifth annual Children’s Holiday Music-Thon last year at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens. Children raised thousands of dollars through pledges, sponsors and direct donation during the event to benefit Camp VITAS, a bereavement camp that provides support to children and teens who have lost a loved one. This year’s event is set for Saturday.