Ashlen is 16 years old and suffers from spina bifida, an opening in the spinal column at birth. Although surgery closed the opening, Ashlen deals with other complications including the need for braces to walk short distances and a wheelchair when a lot of walking is required. Despite health challenges, she has a ready smile and enthusiasm for life.
Ashlen's wish was to be professionally recorded and make a CD of her own renditions of her favorite music. She wrote a letter to New Hope for Kids requesting a wish and sharing from her heart.
“Being hospitalized gives you a lot of time to contemplate life’s meaning. Some of the experiences I’ve been through have been quite discouraging. I have felt alone in so many ways, but I’ve come to realize how fortunate I am in the friends and family that help to support me. The world does not realize what it is like for spina bifida to take away bladder and bowel control and how difficult it is to live with this on a daily basis. Can I ever be loved by someone? I want to prove that I have the potential to become someone who is not identified by my physical diagnosis. I struggle with self doubt and singing has become a therapy for me. It is a way to cope with being different and sometimes feeling unlovable. I love singing and wish I could have access to a recording studio. I want to show to others and myself that I can do amazing things.”
Big Shot Music Studios of Altamonte Springs provided a way for Ashlen to fulfill her wish. CEO Deryle Hughes was happy to open the studio, provide tech support and donate the entire recording to take her dream to reality. Marketer and Promoter Melanie Vandegrift got the ball rolling by making arrangements. When the day came for Ashlen to record, she nervously approached the microphone. Engineer Tim Pierce gave encouraged her to relax and sing from her heart. The second day began with a new hairdo by Liz at Hair Cuttery in Winter Park. Ashlen left looking like a princess. Michael VanGelder, profession photographer, took hours to capture just the right picture of Ashlen for the cover of her CD. It was an awesome experience. She learned that it is a lot of work to make a recording, and that she does have the voice to pursue her love of music. The experience with Big Shot Music Studios was an outstanding success!
New Hope for Kids staff, Ashlen and her family thank each person for helping to make her wish come true!
Album: Memories in the Glass