Idol Performance at Children's Hospital
Michael Johns singing at
American Family Children's Hospital
MADISON - An intimate concert by a former American Idol contestant.
It certainly wasn't something 10-year-old Ashley Gomel expected when she arrived at American Family Children's Hospital for her monthly immunoglobulin treatments. But as she received her therapy, that's exactly what she got.
Gomel, and several other patients at American Family Children's Hospital, enjoyed an informal concert by Michael Johns, who participated in the 2008 season of the television show "American Idol." Johns was joined by three University of Wisconsin-Madison students, all of whom were participants in the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board's All-Campus Idol competition, a campus-wide contest similar to "American Idol."
Johns, who is in Madison as a celebrity judge for the All-Campus Idol competition, performed three songs, including an original, "Heart on my Sleeve," which coincidentally debuted on radio the same day.
Gomel, who has a rare autoimmune disease, juvenile dermatomysositis, normally goes for treatments on Wednesdays. She was thrilled that she had to change the time due to school pictures. Otherwise she would've missed the performance.
"She never misses a show," said her mother, Jennifer, referring to "American Idol." "And Michael was definitely one of our favorites last season."
Johns' and the All-Campus Idols' performances were made possible through the Blair Beinhaker Friendship Foundation. The foundation was started by Andrea Beinhaker in memory of her daughter, Blair.
Blair Beinhaker was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer, PNET, when she was 19 years old. During 13 months of chemotherapy, surgery and treatments, Andrea says her daughter, "never complained, was always upbeat, and always had a positive attitude."
The Make-a-Wish Foundation made it possible for Blair to see Paul McCartney in concert when she was sick. It was such an amazing experience for Blair that after she passed away at age 21, her mother knew just what she needed to do.
"It just clicked," said Andrea. "Because she was so strong and wonderful, we had to do something to pass on her legacy."
Michael Johns with Ashley Gomel and her mom, Jennifer
The Blair Beinhaker Friendship Foundation has helped sick kids and their parents all along the East Coast. They've sent children on special dinners, vacations, even to Broadway shows. It was Alyssa Beinhaker, Blair's younger sister and now a senior at UW-Madison, who arranged for Michael Johns and a few of the Campus Idol contestants to perform at American Family Children's Hospital.
Johns, an Australian native now living in Los Angeles, was excited about the opportunity to visit American Family Children's.
"I love it," he said. "Every time I visit with kids, it's a rewarding experience."
At the conclusion of his song set, Johns posed for pictures with patients and signed autographs. As Ashley Gomel stood next to him, she had a huge grin on her face.
"It's so exciting for her," concluded Jennifer Gomel. Ashley enthusiastically added, "I loved it!"
Date Published: 04/28/2009