A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, December 24, 2006

This one gives you renewed hope for mankind-- especially the "kind" part

What better story for the holiday season?
When Pearl Ziegler sat on Santa's lap this year, she asked for one thing - her very own violin.
The 7-year-old has Asperger syndrome - a form of autism that causes speech, social and physical disorders - and a love and gift for music.

"Music is what she uses to make sense of the world," said Pearl's mom, Lauren Ziegler, 40.

But Pearl's interest reached its crescendo this summer when Lauren took her to a classical concert featuring an autistic musician. "It really inspired her," Lauren said. "All she talked about was learning to play."

The $500 cost of a violin was too much for the Zieglers, who face thousands of dollars in therapy and treatment bills each year. Pearl's dad, Dustin, is working two jobs just to make ends meet. The family's Danbury, Conn., home is on the market. And Pearl's college fund is already gone.

"But I had to find a way to make this happen," Lauren said.

On a whim, Lauren called Western Connecticut State University, a school with a well-known music program, and reached professional violinist Eric Lewis of the Manhattan String Quartet, who met Pearl last week.

"She has tremendous potential musically," Lewis said. "She actually hugged the violin. To me, it was impossible that she wouldn't get a violin this Christmas."

So today, Lewis is going to surprise Pearl with a Christmas gift she'll never forget - a violin, sheet music and free lessons.
"This will open a new world for her," Lauren said. "This truly is a Christmas miracle for us."

A Santa's Helper Salute to Eric Lewis! Who knows how much of a difference this will make in this family's lives? Being able to play music is one of the greatest gifts I ever received. Music is a comfort when all else fails.


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