Local Child To Be Featured in CMT Music Special
The Power of Music by Ann Swindle
Before 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 home.
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.
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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 I sent.
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 time.
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 opened.
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 the bus.”
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.