On a Wintry day in December, Wynema and Earl were driving through Corryville, near downtown Cincinnati, looking for the venue where their son Todd was performing in a Melodic Connections concert. Todd is in his late 40s, and has been singing in his church choir for years. Seeing his love of music, his parents had recently sought out Melodic Connections, where he began learning drums, guitar and keyboard. At today’s concert, Todd and 50 other musicians would take the stage for friends and family.
“Earl. . .” Wynema said to her husband, “. . . this street looks very familiar.” Earl slowed the car a bit. And then it hit them: They were driving on the same street they had traveled more than four decades ago for the multiple hospital and doctor visits their son had required after his birth. At some doctor visits, they were advised that since Todd would most likely never walk or talk, they should consider placing him in the care of a county program.
They both fell silent as they passed the red brick three story building that had housed Todd’s primary doctor –the doctor who gave them very different advice: “Take your son home and try advocating for him!” With those words of hope, Wynema and Earl dedicated their lives to becoming fierce advocates for Todd. Years later, Todd would stand on the podium as the Governor of Ohio signed a bill removing the words “mentally retarded” from the language that had been used to describe him all his life.
Today, Todd’s parents were not here for a doctor visit. They were here to see Todd perform for friends, family and community members who were all there to celebrate the transformational power of music. Everyone in that room had been transformed in their own unique and powerful way by what was happening that day. But for Todd’s parents, the full-circle journey was especially sweet.