11-Year-Old Girl Fights To Find A Cure For Her Parents Diseases

Lauren Blum. Image via ABC 3/WinchesterAs many of you know, my father has Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed in his mid-to-late 50s.

I’ll NEVER forget the look on his face when he first told me he thought he had it. By that time, I’m pretty sure he had seen a doctor. We were eating lunch at the kitchen table and he looked at me and said his arm was trembling and he thought he might have something. I was CRUSHED but, as is my style, I showed little emotion and said, “No, you’re not sick. You’re fine. Maybe you just need to rest more.”

I didn’t want to believe it and, most of all, I wanted to aleve his fears.

He looked scared. And embarrassed. And he was right. He was soon thereafter officially diagnosed.

My dad was a very active man. He always worked two jobs. He loved to ride his ten speed bike (cycled competitively in his native Colombia) and lifted weights. Slowly, his ability to do all that would leave him. Today he spends most of his time watching soccer on TV in his bedroom.

Parkinson’s is a like a slow moving physical prison. It sucks. I wish there were a cure.

Research helps. My dad had deep brain stimulation surgery about seven years ago. While it has slowed the disease, and we are grateful for that, I read up on Parkinson’s news daily, hoping there will be a breakthrough.

Eleven year old Lauren Blum of the Winchester-area in Virginia is raising money for research– not only for Parkinson’s, which her dad has, but also for multiple sclerosis, which her mom has. The feeling of having an ill parent is hard to describe. It must be harder for someone so young! This story made me smile because of her positive attitude.

Check it out:

“Half of the money I raise goes to Multiple Sclerosis and the other half goes to Parkinson’s” says Blum. She was only a baby when her parents were diagnosed with their diseases.

“I always used to worry about were they going to die and what is going to happen. You could never really know what’s going to happen with these diseases except they can’t die. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that.”

See the video segment via ABC 3/Winchester here.

Ondatropica at Lincoln Center ‘Out of Doors’

Photo by Gina Vergel

Ondatrópica made its US debut at the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Festival on July 27 and it was awesome, mostly because I was able to shoot photos right up front. Read Jon Pareles’ (New York Times) review of the show here.

This all-star band featured greats from the golden age of Colombian music including Michi Sarmiento, Alfredito Linares, Pedro Ramayá Beltran, Markitos Micolta and Wilson Vivero, alongside the two musicians who started this wonderful project, Will ‘Quantic’ Holland and Mario Galeano with their bands, Combo Barbaro and Frente Cumbiero.

I got to meet the very humble Quantic as he was manning the merchandise table, where I purchased the band’s self-titled debut album. I told him that his “Original Sound of Original Cumbia” and “Cartagena!” CDs mean a lot to me because my dad loves them and they help to transport him back to Colombia at a time when it’s not easy for him to visit his beloved home country.

My dad has had Parkinson’s disease for more than 10 years now and is quite immobile. He is the person who introduced my brothers and I to Colombian music as he’d blast his records every Saturday when we were growing up. It’s why my younger brother started DJing at 14. It’s why my older brother and I are insane fans of la musica de la costa. It’s why this music is in our blood.

One of the things my dad misses most in life is dancing to the wonderful music from his home country. So I was very happy to tell Quantic his CDs are on REPEAT at my parents’ home in New Jersey. He can’t quite dance; but he sure can bop to it and occasionally digs out his maracas when doing so.

Now my dad will have the opportunity to experience this new Colombian sound. Ondatrópica fuses old with new to create a progressive sound which mixes traditional Colombian styles such as cumbia, gaita and champeta with boogaloo, ska, beat-box, MCs, dub and funk. And we were quite blown away when they played a song with bits of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” in it!

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