Stocks & Pedestal, Summer 2014
Making beautiful music
When the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians started seeing an increasing number of empty seats in Heinz Hall during their concerts for students, a group of them started making inquiries.
They learned that, because of funding cuts, a number of schools could no longer afford to hire the buses to bring youngsters Downtown for the concert. They also found out that music programs were suffering, lacking funds to buy and repair instruments and even to purchase sheet music.
The musicians decided they could help. In October, they held a benefit concert, which raised $15,000; a second concert raised another $13,000. And with that money they created the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Musicians Care Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation, which kicked in another $10,000.
The effort included all 99 of the PSO’s musicians, and they expect not only to make $25,000 in grants this year to local schools, but they’re going to build the program in the future, with one big concert a year and a couple smaller chamber events as fundraisers. And the effort has gained the attention of musicians in some of the nation’s largest orchestras, who have expressed interest in helping.
We’re putting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on our pedestal for seeing a problem and taking the initiative to create part of the solution. Bravo!
On a pedestal: Neil Alexander
Living Like Lou
July 4 marks the 75th anniversary of the most famous speech in baseball history.
At New York’s Yankee Stadium, the man who had been called “The Iron Horse” for playing in 2,130 consecutive games was there to say goodbye to a packed house after his retirement because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Almost too moved by the occasion to speak, Lou Gehrig stepped to the microphone. His words echoed through the stadium’s public address system and through the years: “For the past two weeks, you’ve been reading about a bad break. Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Much of the rest of the actual recording is lost, but Gehrig ended the speech: “I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”
It was 2-1/2 years ago when Hefren Tillotson financial advisor Neil Alexander was diagnosed with ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After picking himself off the floor, Alexander decided he had a great deal for which to be thankful, and he decided he was going to “Live Like Lou.”
Since then, Alexander and his family have not only learned to cope with the disease but have set to work raising awareness of ALS and raising money to fund research for a cure. And Alexander’s results have been dramatic. He’s given scores of presentations and his fund—livelikelou.org—has raised $750,000 so far.
Alexander is on our pedestal for his courageous spirit and for deciding to use the time he has to make a difference in the lives of others.
On a pedestal: Dan McCoy
Forging Sochi Gold
Born with spina bifida, Fox Chapel’s Dan McCoy could have been expected to consider athletic competition beyond his reach. Instead, he achieved a distinction few ever reach: a gold medal from the Sochi Olympic games.
Despite numerous surgeries and setbacks through the years, young McCoy persevered, playing sled hockey since he was age 9, playing goalie on the Fox Chapel Area High School junior varsity lacrosse team, and earning a spot on the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team.
In March, McCoy and his U.S. teammates defeated the Russian sled hockey team to win gold. And in the process, the 20-year-old student of rehabilitation science and sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh has brought honor to his family, his city and his country.