Contests are an integral part of the Give the Gift of Music Campaign.

These contests typically ask music-lovers to write a brief essay expressing their fondest music memory. Past contests have been kicked off by chart-toppers such as Michael Bublé, Taylor Swift, Hunter Hayes, CeeLo Green, The Band Perry, and Josh Groban. Winners can go home with anything from tickets to music award shows to artist-signed memorabilia and cash prizes.



Lorraine’s entry is below:

Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” was the song of the year for my daughter and I. My daughter, Zoe, is 12 years old and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disease that affects voluntary muscle control and her respiratory system. Zoe has been in a wheelchair since diagnosis at 14 months old. She has endured 13 spinal surgeries and countless defeats as this disease slowly takes away her control of her own body. Though she can’t even reach up to push her own glasses up if they slide down, Zoe is the definition of brave. You’ll always find her singing with a smile on her face. She faces her challenges head on without feeling sorry for herself. Zoe is a champion for those she feels need one – elephants, kids with cancer, shelter animals. Yet, she needs someone to help her do every single physical task in her day – and here she is fighting for those who are down. She is a straight-A, 7th grader who can’t so much as pick up her own text book, but is determined to be just like everyone else. One of the greatest challenges we’ve been facing is her body image. It’s tough being a 12-year-old girl as it is, but add in what SMA has done to her body and you get one very confused and frustrated preteen.

“Brave” came on the radio one day as we were driving and both Zoe and I fell into complete silence as the lyrics hit us. Within minutes of getting home, she downloaded it from iTunes. By the end of the day, the lyrics were memorized and she began creating art based on them.

Music is Zoe’s outlet – she has a larger iTunes library than most adults and I take her to as many concerts as I can afford. Music is where she feels free of the barriers of everyday life and, at 12-years-old, it is her passion. I feel a little jealous as it took me 25 years to find my passion – her.

Zoe is very aware of how different she is compared to her classmates and friends. Yet, she doesn’t let it get to her very often. She lets her words flow, her ideas be heard, and fills this world with compassion, kindness, and hope whenever she can. She is a true hero. I can’t help but tear up every time I hear “Brave” and I’ve never been able to sing along with “Show me how big your brave is” without crying at the thought of just how big my daughter’s brave actually is. It’s much bigger than anyone else’s that I’ve ever met.