Article: For a silent girl, Hanson speaks

By | October 6, 2009

Tulsa World

Big hearts enable her to make concert

Hanson fan Lindsey Easton has a lot of friends — and most of them had never even met her until last week.

But the Tulsa trio of Zac, Isaac and Taylor know her well because she’s been coming to their concerts since she was a young girl.

“My daughter’s unable to speak,” said Lindsey’s mom, Laurie Easton. “We go see Hanson every year when they’re in town — we’ve even traveled to Oklahoma City.”

In fact, the first thing Lindsey got for her birthday last month was a Hanson concert ticket — the day they went on sale. But this year’s visit was unlike any other. In fact, Lindsey almost didn’t make it to the concert date last Wednesday at Cain’s Ballroom.

“I tell people, ‘You know Christopher Reeve? That’s what she’s got,’ ” Laurie told the Tulsa World in 2005, after Lindsey graduated as co-valedictorian at Glenpool High School.

Though her mother uses the analogy to make her daughter’s condition more easily understood, Lindsey has Pompe disease — a rare and debilitating version of muscular dystrophy. (Reeve suffered a spinal cord injury.)

“Lindsey was in the ER last Monday. She coded twice,” her mother said calmly during a phone interview last week. “She had a pneumonia and heart failure. She was so, so sick.”

But Lindsey fought back with quiet determination, like she always has. In fact, she was diagnosed with the disease as an infant and wasn’t expected to live past toddlerhood. She’s now 23.

“She’s bright. She’s all there. She
was so afraid she wouldn’t make the show. But we were afraid she wouldn’t make it,” Laurie said soberly. After 10 days in the hospital, Lindsey was still on oxygen and monitors. But she was feeling better.

“It’s a testament to the power of music,” Laurie said. “She was determined to go to that show.”

Backstage pass
It started simply.

“I was approached by her sister,” said Brad Harris, Cain’s Ballroom production manager. Lindsey’s sister Shannon is a “runner” who does errands for the concert hall before and during concerts, he said. “She told me that Lindsey was a huge Hanson fan.”

The venue often accommodates all sorts of needs, but this was a first, said Harris.

First, Lindsey’s mom called the ambulance service in their home town of Glenpool. Due to Lindsey’s weakness, an ambulance ride — on a full gurney bed with heart monitors, oxygen tanks and paramedics — would have to accompany her to the show. Two Glenpool paramedics volunteered their time, equipment and expertise.

Next, Laurie called Cain’s Ballroom. Management agreed to let her daughter enter through the back door, with a prime view from just beside the stage. Lindsey’s grandfather Thomas Stiff was also impressed by the generous offer of friendship and support.

“They said ‘Don’t worry, we will do whatever is necessary to get her there.’ They not only transported her to Cain’s, they had two attendants stay with her the entire time she was there, and brought one very happy girl back home.”

Meet and greet
Hanson even played her favorite song — their first hit, “MMMBop.” They also played a cover tune that rocked the mother and daughter to their cores, said Laurie. It was Journey’s hit, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

From there, Lindsey — with help from her new paramedic friends and family — was wheeled out back to visit.

“After the show,” Harris said, “Hanson’s tour manager stopped me and said the guys wanted to meet her. She was alert; she was so happy. It was so emotional, I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I was afraid I’d start crying.”

Lindsey’s mom agreed to the visit — and didn’t miss one second of the 20-minute exchange.

“Zac always recognizes her,” said Laurie. “They’re just really nice boys — well, they’re boys to me,” she said, then laughed. “They thanked her for being such a longtime fan. They also told her to never stop listening to music.

“So many people went so far out of their way to help her. To have so many unexpected friends has been one of the best gifts our family could ever receive.”

As the dream meeting drew to an end, Taylor Hanson even bent over the young woman and kissed her on the cheek.

“Not many people will bend over to kiss anyone in a hospital bed like that,” said her mom as her voice shook with emotion. “They were all so good to her.”

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