Linda Camann is a mother, wife, musician, and teacher who lives a life that seemed impossible in her first few years of life.
When Camann was 2-years-old she contracted a virus that left her paralyzed.
"I was not able to walk and I had trouble sitting up and just moving around,” Camann said. “I realized that if I wanted to go from one spot to the other I would have to drag myself around on the floor."
As the years passed, Camann eventually learned to maneuver around easier.
When she was six, Camann met the woman that would change her life. Her aunt's piano teacher, Ms. Lillian McRitchie.
"We didn't even really discuss my disability. What we did do is we concentrated on what I could do and we got so caught up in that that the disability was not a concern," Camann said.
McRitchie took Camann under her wing and gave her piano lessons free of charge for 11 years. However, Camann said McRitchie gave her much more than music lessons.
"She really didn't consider a physical condition being a way that would totally stop me from doing things that I wanted to do," Camann said.
Camann would go on to dedicate her life to music and teaching it.
“Music is a way of life,” Camann said. “It's a way to express who and what I am."
Camann never forgot McRitchie and her gift of empowerment.
"I realized that what this beautiful lady had given me and how much a part of my life it shaped. It had to go on. It had to go to other children," Camann said.
Years after her lessons Camann met up with McRitchie.
"At that moment I knew that I would create LGSM, Lillian Gertrude Simms McRitchie, a foundation that would help disable children in private music study," Camann said.
Since then Camann has taught hundreds of kids and adults with special needs.
"I'm giving one of the best gifts that I have and that's the ability to communicate through music," Camann said.
Some of her students, like Christina Kazmiercgek, have gained confidence through her music lessons.
"I'm so grateful for her. I really like her. It always makes me happy. It just make me feel so confident," Kazmiercgek said.
Other's like Robbie Elefante, who has congenital heart disease, said music saved his life.
"When you are sick and inside all the time you tend to spend most of your day alone, but learning music gave me a gateway to escape me being by myself," Elefante said.
It is stories like theirs that keep Camann teaching generation after generation.
"I'm giving one of the best gifts that I have and that's the ability to communicate through music,” Camann said. “It connects us together."
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