Tonight, friends and supporters of the FSH Society assembled at the New York Botanical Garden, amid glorious autumn foliage and blooms, to experience the two-fold magic of music and philanthropy. Music stirs our emotions and joins us together in our common humanity, while philanthropy channels our care and concern for one another into action that changes lives. We are all better for it when we can create spaces that enable our best selves to flow together.
The two artists making the music we heard are among the brightest stars of New York’s cultural firmament: revered pianist Steven Blier and singer-actress Judy Kaye, one of Broadway’s leading ladies. It was our privilege to have these superb artists entertain and inspire us tonight.
Steven also happens to have FSH muscular dystrophy, the disease we are gathered here to fight. But it’s not the disease that makes Steven worthy of our gratitude and admiration. It’s his commitment to making and sharing music of the highest order. He keeps up a strenuous schedule of performances and teaching. It’s not his FSHD that worries him, he jokes, but how he’s going to get through 18 concerts in the next few months.
“Muscular dystrophy is not something I would recommend,” Steven told New York Times columnist Joe Nocera. “But it is an amazing teacher. It shows you what you are made of. To live your life in a wheelchair, you have to man-up. To go on stage takes some guts. But you find your confidence and you become your own advocate.”
These words apply equally well to our event committee, led by Judy Seslowe and Beth Johnston. They live with FSHD too – because they themselves or loved ones are affected – and they have “manned up” magnificently. Robert & Abigail Kirsch donated this splendid venue. Bill Milling, Susan Egert and their team at the American Movie Company produced the powerful short film that premieres tonight. We are deeply grateful to all of them.
Our most special appreciation goes to Judy Kaye, who has taken time from her own insanely busy life as a multi-Tony award-winning actress to sing for us tonight.
The concert this year was the Society’s most successful yet, grossing over $310,000. We feel the momentum building to take FSHD research and advocacy to the next level! Join us on this journey.