The Story of the One Flock Choir
The Choir of Children with Special Needs
There are so many other choirs and orchestras performing and I know their members have spent their lives practicing for this. Why is everyone talking about the children in the One Flock Choir?” My Mom turned to me and said, “Because it’s their turn.”
Mom was right. These children had been pushed to the back for far too long and now they were front and center and amazing all who stood in their presence. I was no stranger to being back stage but I had never been responsible for a choir of special needs children at a venue of this magnitude and I felt the weight of it. As I stood in the wings of the Kimmel Center, with a line of Catholic children with special needs behind me, I prayed, “Dear God, let them be perfect. Tonight, if any small mistake is made, that is all anyone will discuss at intermission. Tonight, in this place, in this moment, they must be perfect. Help them. Help me.”
They walked out on stage with tremendous pride. The silence was deafening. All you could hear was the tap, tap, tap, of the blind choir member’s canes. Bridget, who is blind and about twelve years old, was told to reach for the corner of the music stand to find her place on stage and then the others would find their place around her. As I took my place at the podium, I looked down to see Bridget’s hand searching for the corner of the music
stand. I watched her little hand reaching and reaching and not finding the music stand. I took her hand in mine and placed it on the corner of the music stand and as I did, she sighed with relief.
They sang their hearts out that night. Never had they sung the way they did that night. As the last note drifted out into the blackness, there was a moment of silence before two thousand people jumped to their feet and roared with applause. I led John, our brave and noble soloist, who is seven years old and blind, to the edge of the stage to take his solo bow and as I did he said, “Dr. Wedemeyer, what are they all doing? Tell me everything.” I knelt beside him and started to describe what my eyes could see and what his eyes could not.
As they took their bows, I looked at Christopher and I saw Joey’s face. I looked at Sheldon and saw Stephen. I looked at Simon and I saw Christian. What a gift God had given me, the gift of special education. It is who I was. It is who I am and who I always will be. I am Catholic. I have a special need and I spend my life surrounded by others with special needs and I wouldn’t have it any other way. How can you top a night like the one at Kimmel? You can’t but our story didn’t end there.
It was as if God himself sent the One Flock Choir a reward for a year of work well done. The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies called and ask the One Flock Choir to sing at the game. These children loved music and they loved the Phillies. It was a dream come true for them to be down on the field with the players. As we walked through the tunnels which led to the field, we saw two majestic wooden doors with Phillies carved across them. Abagail asked, “Dr. Wedemeyer, do you think the players are in there?” “I don’t know Abby,” I replied. “I wrote a letter to Mr. Victorino, can I go give it to him?” Not knowing any of the players, I said, “Victor who, honey?”Abby, all of nine, walked up to the wooden French doors and knocked…