On Wednesday, September 21, JoyRx hosted its first Get Inspired Breakfast in Austin, Texas, with guest speakers, musical performances, and – most importantly – Joy!
The Portland, Oregon Get Inspired Breakfast is a long-celebrated event, but September marked the first time the Lone Star State hosted its own breakfast since they first started servicing kids in Texas.
“I’m touched by what JoyRx does to harness the power of Joy and bring it to places where people – our sweet kids and families – may not be able to access that level of Joy right now,” said master of ceremonies and Austin Leadership Council member Taylor Ellison during the opening minutes of the event. “And to use music as a vehicle to spread Joy… Well, we know here in Austin, Texas, the power of music can connect us and change lives!”
Music as Medicine
One guest speaker was Rosa Lott, who kicked off the breakfast with a powerful story of her son, Lian.
After describing the fraught start to Lian’s life with heart complications that demanded many stays at the hospital, Rosa shared the Joy that Lian experiences with music – and how thanks to the JoyRx Music program in Austin, Lian developed his skills and love for music one guitar strum at a time.
“Most of all,” said Rosa, “his time with the JoyRx Music Specialist, Kelsey, makes him confident. Whatever he plays, whatever he does, he is rewarded with applause and cheers and that influences him.”
For a mother, it’s obviously an amazing transformation to see. “Music makes him feel free,” she said. “You can tell that he’s happy. You can tell just by looking at him.”
What Makes Us Unique
Alyssa Williams, JoyRx’s Director of Development in the South region, spoke to the power of Joy and music as healing medicine for children who need it most.
What makes JoyRx unique? As Alyssa described, while there are many organizations conducting important, life-changing research to cure cancer, JoyRx is tackling the life-changing power of emotional wellbeing.
“We are the only organization developing and delivering customized Joy-based programming to enhance the mental health and emotional wellbeing of kids and teens battling cancer and other serious illness,” she said.
As we at JoyRx know so well: Joy can make all the difference.
The Breakfast featured a questions and answers portion between Allison Moore, JoyRx Director of Programs in the South region, and Alyssa Geiss, Child Life Supervisor at Children’s Comprehensive Care Clinic.
Their conversation addressed the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis to the importance of Joy in a child’s life. It was an important conversation that underscored the significance of JoyRx and their service within Texas.
And the work of JoyRx looks bright – towards the end of the Q&A, Allison and Alyssa turned towards the future and the return of in-person offerings from JoyRx Music.
“You’re right, Alyssa,” Allison said in response to Alyssa’s optimism for the coming month. “I, too, am excited to be back in person with our kids who need it most.” As of October 3, JoyRx Music will return to Children’s Comprehensive Care and Children’s Blood and Cancer Center in Austin. To the guests, Allison added, “We look forward to keeping you all updated on the progress and how you can get involved.”
Music, Song, and JOY
As the morning progressed, the event turned towards more lyrical pursuits.
For all the talk of what music can do for children, Program Specialist Christy Medley was the perfect vehicle to demonstrate that impact first-hand.
Christy led the guests in a singalong rendition of “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. Guests were invited to get on their feet and play with the provided JoyRx egg-shakers in time to the music.
It was a heartfelt display of what so many JoyRx-connected families can look forward to once in-person services resume in October.
Words from the Heart
The morning concluded with guest speaker and Austin Leadership Council member Elena Garcia Slaton, who shared a personal story of her son’s heart complications in 2020. Elena’s story of her son, Ledger, was a powerful reminder of what JoyRx offers to kids and their families – and why that work is more important than ever.
“I now know what it’s like to be that parent with a sick child, a club you hope you never have to join,” said Elena. “I think back to this time in the hospital often and what it would have been like to have JoyRx’s healing power of music as a welcomed distraction and comfort to us and Ledger.”
Today, thankfully, Ledger is two years old and has since graduated to annual appointments with his cardiologist.
But it’s an experience that Elena takes to heart, imploring the guests: “It’s because of my experience that I support JoyRx and their mission to bring joy to sick kids and their families.”
Join the Joy Revolution
In the end, Austin’s first Get Inspired Breakfast was a great success.
The hope is always to have others join JoyRx in creating the Joy Revolution – to introduce more kids and their families to the healing power of music. The impacts can’t be underestimated, and we see the way Joy heals.
“At JoyRx, we get inspired by the kids and families we have the privilege to serve, by our amazing mission, by our community partners, by our volunteers, and by new friends like each of you,” said Alyssa Williams in her closing remarks. “Thank you for joining us today. We hope we’ve inspired you to journey with us on our Joy Revolution. We need you. The kids need you.”
If you’re interested in hosting a fundraising event to bring Joy to seriously ill kids and teens, contact Grace Dooney at GDooney@JoyRx.org.