NKCHS Orchestra to Play Song Inspired by Story of Shawnee Girl with Cancer

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The North Kansas City High School orchestra will play a special song dedicated to a young girl with cancer and her family during its concert Tuesday evening.

Sisters Josie, 7, and Quincy, 5, from Shawnee, Kansas, wrote about their dream family adventure for Sing Me a Story. The non-profit organization takes stories written by children in need and adds music.

Quincy suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She was diagnosed in March 2022. So when the opportunity arose to add music to their lives, her mother, Katie, said yes.

“The whole process leading up to the diagnosis was obviously devastating for our family. It was hard. Because we were kind of torn apart as a family,” Katie Fitzgerald said.

Josie and Quincy worked together as sisters, along with their mother, to write “The Adventures of the Fitzgerald Family.”“. The story takes readers from a trampoline park through portals to Barbie Land and other locations where Spider-Man and Michael Jackson make appearances.

Local composer Jeremy Litster was hired by NKCHS Orchestra Director Sheree Yoder to compose a musical piece to pair with the book. It sounds like movie music, according to Yoder.

“I was really focusing on creating a good atmosphere. So, listening to that, you should feel like you’re in a certain environment,” Litster said. “Musical storytelling has the power to improve lives. »

Director Sheree Yoder said she was looking for an opportunity to showcase her students’ musical talents outside of the classroom. When “Sing Me a Story” offered him a chance to perform for Quincy and Josie, it was a perfect fit.

“Music has healing power. And so that’s what we want to communicate. Music is not something we are meant to keep to ourselves, music is meant to be shared,” Yoder said.

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Quincy and his family visited NKCHS before the concert to hear an excerpt of the piece Lister called “Many Sides of the Portal.”

“It was special,” said Joseph Ko, principal member of the orchestra. “I had never seen Quincy in person before, so when I saw a cute kid, my heart melted and I really wanted to put more effort into my music.”

For Katie Fitzgerald, this project exceeded what she had imagined. She said she was grateful they had music to reminisce about that time in their lives.

“It was like a sign, everything will be okay. It’s here to help you. So it’s really special to be able to look back and say, ‘We got through that number one, but you guys really worked together to get there,'” Fitzgerald said.

If you would like to attend the NKCHS orchestra concert, it is Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. You can read Josie and Quincy’s story in full here.