Local Child To Be Featured in
CMT Music Special
The Power of Music
by Ann Swindle
I tell you how Rascal Flatts came to be I have to tell you about
my daughters. They are the stars of one of the most amazing moments
of my life.
Hillary was born 12 weeks early, weighed in at 1 pound and 10 ounces,
13 inches long. From the beginning she was a fighter. She had very
few complications the 82 days she was at Princeton Hospital in Birmingham.
She was tiny and only weighed 4 pounds and 6 ounces when she came
We were told that Hillary would not live to see 6 years old, she
is 12 years old. They said she would never “understand”,
she does. They said that she would never talk, she never stops.
They told us a million things that she would never do but it didn’t
really matter what they said since she proved them wrong time and
time again. Hillary has Cerebral palsy as a result of being born
so early. But to meet her you can’t tell anything is wrong
except for her being in a wheelchair.
Then there is Caitlin. She was born with a internal birth defect
that has required many many surgeries. Caitlin is great right now
and we may have two more surgeries as she gets older. We are very
thankful for the doctors and staff at Children’s Hospital.
My girls and I have lived with my parents
for 11 years. My parents and their grandparents are Fred and Jackie
Wires of Dora. I had moved to Cullman about 2 years ago but now
live back in Dora.
Both of my girls attend T.S.Boyd school. They are both in 6th grade.
They are very well known around town with my mother Jackie. Which
I have to say is my hero because I could have never went through
the past 12 years and all the hard times without her and my dad
Fred. I owe everything to them.
Click here for
the rest of the story and pictures.
When the song “I’m movin on” by Rascal Flatts
first came out it was on CMT all the time. Hillary loves music,
and computers. She is very limited to her actions. We have to adapt
things to her such as a playstation control, table tops, etc,, She
can control a remote and a push button cd player. So, one day the
video was on and up until this point she had not been really verbal.
The people around her all the time could understand her but strangers
had to be told what she was saying. She rolled up next to the tv
and just sat there for the length! of the song. It is a very slow
song with words that are very plain set to music. I asked her did
she like that song and instead of smiling as her usual way of saying
yes she actually said “yes”. I was stunned, speechless,
etc.. I told mother what happened and we started watching her. She
was learning words from music. We listen to every gener of music
country, rock, r&b, pop and etc.. Hillary would listen to music
while doing therapy in the evenings and there are countless days
that she has sat on the front porch listening to cd’s. She
had her little headset and cd pl! ayer that stayed on the back of
her wheelchair. We let her pick what she wanted to listen too. With
each genre of music we would notice that she would start making
new sounds and building those sounds to actual words. Music was
the miracle that we had prayed for.
I had emailed Rascal Flatts web site to
tell them what a huge part that they played in her life. I wanted
to thank them for their music. That was four years ago. I had forgotten
about it. I was actually very unsure of they had received the message
At the first of May I was contacted by Authentic
Productions from Los Angeles, California. CMT had hired them to
do a show around Hillary. CMT wanted the show to reflect how powerful
music can be. A lot of times we know the words by heart of our favorite
song but we rarely ever ‘really’ hear it after the first
So, Brandy a producer started the story.
Brandy has helped produce movies like Almost Famous and Jack***
- The movie. She is a amazing person. From the first of May till
the last week in July there was constant communications between
us and LA. We met Brandy at the airport on July 21st. The rest of
the crew came in that Friday. They sat up across the road in a RV
and oddly enough no one noticed.
We were told that they wanted to film Hillary
and her everyday life. It was to show how music played such a huge
role in her life. Okay, we pretty much just did what they wanted
us to do. They followed us to Walmart in Sumiton to watch her shop,
they followed us to Sayre Races to watch her watch the race. She
got to start the race that night in the pace car. The whole time
we had no ideal what was being planned behind our backs.
They interviewed family and friends. The
crew was very impressed with the local people and how everyone showed
true Southern Hospitality to them when we were out in public. None
of them had ever been this far south and the humidity about got
them. Every evening we all went swimming in pool because the crew
was about drained. I had no ideal that California heat was different
than Alabama heat. Brandy made the remark that you couldn’t
breathe in the heat here.
The Crew –
Tom – Co Owner of Authentic Productions
Mike – producer
Nate – camera guy
Dean – Sound guy
Lemmon – Crew guy
Chris – crew guy (he lives in Birmingham)
They are great people. We took them on a
tour of Dora. I am not sure what parts will be shown.
On the last day of filming they wanted it
to be just immediate family for final interviews. We were all here
sitting in the living room. Brandy was interviewing us and we heard
a very loud horn. I thought “who is blowing their horn they
know we are here.” Brandy and Mike go to the front door and
announce that Hillary and Caitlin have visitors. I thought “NO
WAY!” I actually thought it was Big & Rich because Brandy
had produced the Music Mafia show for CMT. So I thought it would
be them. We all went outside. We couldn’t tell who was in
the bus. Hillary and Caitlin were beside their self. Then the doors
There are moments in all of our lives that
time stands still, the world stops turning and you forget to breathe.
You want to stay in that one moment forever.
When Gary stepped off the bus Hillary literally
stopped breathing, and then JoeDon and Jay came out. Hillary could
not calm down. It was her ‘boys’. She couldn’t
say Rascal Flatts so she called the band ‘boys’. We
were all shocked beyond belief. After the shock and stunned moment
passed I looked at Brandy and asked her “Why didn’t
you tell me?” She just laughed and said, “It wouldn’t
have been as priceless to see the girls face when they came off
Gary, JoeDon, and Jay came in and made their
self at home. They are very real people. They were suppose to stay
for 30 minutes but stayed 2 ½ hours. They played her the
songs she liked the most, she got her guitar out to ‘play’
along. They had one of the best conversations with Hillary I have
ever seen any new person have with her because she tends to keep
here distance from people she doesn’t know. I later found
out that Gary actually had worked with special needs children before
going to music. He told me that he had prepared his self for this
event because he knew ! how special needs children can be but he
was impressed with her ability to communicate and relate in a social
setting. Once again, I owe a great deal of Hillary’s advancement
to my mother. She never lets any of us give up.
Rascal Flatts is working with a leading company
in computer technology to design a laptop computer for Hillary that
will be loaded with software for education and advanced communications.
This one experience would make up for the
other experiences that Hillary will never have.
That huge bus sat in the drive way for 3
hours and no one had a clue except for the people on our street.
When you see the pictures you can see how huge the bus was.
We had no ideal that Rascal Flatts was going
to show up. Also at this event was the other co owner of Authenthic
productions, Lauren and Fitz which is a VIP at CMT, another camera
crew… It was hard to keep up with all of them.
Gary, Joedon, and Jay are great guys. They
keep in touch with Hillary and Caitlin. The crew from LA also email
weekly. We made some very good friends. We received a email that
2 of the camera crew was in New Orleans filming for CNN and they
wanted to know if they could come here if need be. Of course we
said yes. They love the Southern Hospitality. It was a amazing moment
for my girls. I am very grateful for everyone that was here. Hillary
and Caitlin will never forget this event in their life.
here for more photos