To many “TM” stands for “trademark.” But for a scant few it stands for Transverse Myelitis. It may sound like some kind of optical development, but it’s much, much more. Without any real warning, it changes lives dramatically. Within a matter of hours, a normal, healthy person can suffering varying types of paralysis due to damage to the spinal cord. While TM has been around since 1882, this neurological disorder is considered an orphan disease because only 1,400 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Thus, little research has been done.
But like any orphan, this one was in need of adopting, and Dallas’ Don Winspear found himself as that person. It was literally forced upon him two-and-a-half years ago to champion the research and development of treatments for TM. He was attending his son’s wedding in North Carolina when he and his wife Ellen found themselves in a hospital fighting for his life thanks to TM.
After intense efforts his life was saved, but changed. Even after months of rehab, Don discovered that he would be wheelchair-bound. But it didn’t stop either of the Winspears from an active life. They still supported the opera, the zoo and others. But now they added TM to their list of “must do’s.”
Don’s answer to create awareness and raise funding had its roots in music, but not with operatic tones. Last year he created “An Evening Of Friends and Music” benefiting the “Conquer Project at UTSW.” Taking place at the Kessler Theater in July, the concert succeeded despite fears that there would be nobody in town to attend; featured artists were Brice Beaird, Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor. But nope! The place was jammed with friends, food and fundraising. It was also surprising to many of the number of locals dealing with TM — Curtis Meadows, David Pidgeon and Tom Rafferty.
It was such a success, in fact, that Don decided to do a repeat performance this year. Yup, it’ll be back at the Kessler on Wednesday, July 8, starting at 7:30 p.m. And this year Don’s arranged for Dallas’ own Tiger Darrow to open the evening followed by Hal Ketchum.
Hal’s participation is especially poignant, since the C&W troubadour’s encounter with TM in 1998 resulted in the paralysis of his left side and his withdrawing from the music business years ago: “The entire left side of his body was paralyzed. He slowly recovered, having to learn the basics, including how to walk and how to play the guitar.” It’s only been recently that he has returned to the studio and performing on stage.
If you’re a country/western music lover, you’ll be in Austin heaven. If you’re sorta curious about what all the hoopla is about when it comes to C&W—and TM—then this opportunity is just made for you to find out. Tickets are available now!