Harborfest attendees are always excited to see an admission free concert each year featuring national touring acts that normally would require a ticket to be purchased to see them in concert. But for one fan planning on attending Harborfest in 2012, seeing the announced headliner, Kenny Loggins , would be a dream come true for her and her family.
The anticipation to see Kenny Loggins in person at Harborfest began to grow when Jill Lyon from Constellation Energy Nuclear Group announced on April 27th during the WSYR “Bridge Street” television show, that CENG would be bringing the twelve time platinum recording artist as the headlining act for the 25th annual Harborfest exactly three months later on Friday night July 27th. Admittedly there was no group of fans looking more forward to his visit than one central New York family who has a daughter with Down syndrome and has been a long time Kenny Loggins fan.
The family reached out to the Harborfest staff about two months before the festival to bring the staff up to speed with the special attraction between Kenny Loggins and one of their family members. As it was explained to the staff, this woman in her late thirties with Down’s syndrome had always been a big fan of the music of Kenny Loggins, in particular the “Footloose” soundtrack and both versions of the movie by the same name. The story relayed by the family goes on to include that the woman suffered a stroke within the past two years and some of her motor skills, such as speech and balance, had been affected to the point where they were she would not recover to the level of independence that existed before the stroke. The road to recovery from the stroke included a particular development that even caught medical officials off guard. It appeared that the woman would respond best to physical therapy and other elements of recovery when she was in the familiar surroundings of Kenny Loggins music. This story was so remarkable that the staff at Harborfest began a lengthy communication process with the Loggins management team to see if a personal “Meet ‘n Greet” could be arraigned between the popular star and the woman who was so familiar with his music.
The management team was informed by Loggins that he would meet privately with the woman and her family but then other elements of the actual visit had to be changed once they were agreed to. Loggins normally handles his “Meet ‘n Greet” events after he concludes his show and this was probably not going to be something that the woman would be able to take advantage of because the scheduled event for that night would have had her meeting the star well after 10:30. The team’s Tour Manager stepped in a few days before the show and promised that Kenny would meet the special woman before his show at Harborfest but all involved would have to be prepared for any adjustments in time as that day went on. The family was on “stand by” and texts started to flow back and forth between the Tour Manager and Harborfest. The band was ahead of their normal schedule and tentative times were set to have the family show up and meet Kenny as soon as his bus arrived at his dressing room behind the Harborfest stage. Then family was given an exact time and the sense of this unbelievable meeting was starting to take shape.
True to his word at the exact time, Kenny invited the girl and her family to meet with him back stage. To say that emotions were flowing would be an understatement. The family could not believe that the whole plan came together and that Kenny Loggins was more than personable with all of them especially the guest of honor who could not believe that she was meeting “Mr. Footloose” himself. Loggins knew what the woman’s story was as he had agreed to the special meeting. Loggins engaged in conversation with all members of the group and knew that the story that was relayed to him about her reactions to his music was something that he fully understood. One of the woman’s sisters, who is a physical therapist, mentioned to Kenny the part about her sister’s reaction to his music during the road to recovery from her stroke. Loggins joined right in on the conversation by stating that scientific research has shown that people do in fact respond to certain sounds and music in many situations. The meeting lasted longer than most “Meet ‘n Greet” events and Loggins was nothing less than gracious with how he handled this special request for this special woman.
The smile on the faces of the woman and her family after the meeting was something that lasted the rest of the evening. The family had front row seating in and behind the handicapped area to the left of the stage and this woman got to see her musical hero perform right before her eyes. After what was a very long and excitable day for all, they left before the two encores that Loggins performed as they wanted to beat the traffic from a packed admission free concert. The Harborfest staff thanked Kenny Loggins personally after his show for what he did with meeting this woman earlier. Loggins said it was his pleasure and it was evident that it really made her day.
The woman who recently has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease will hopefully remember that day for a very long time. This was the day that her hero agreed to meet with her.