AKRON, Ohio — Musicians from throughout Northeast Ohio are hitting a high note as a way to give back through the annual Piano-a-thon benefiting Akron Children’s Hospital.
It's the 21st annual event, and more than 220 students are participating by sharing their musical talents with hospital staff and patients at the facility.
One of the performers is 16-year-old Daniel Colaner, who knows the halls of the hospital all too well.
"When I was 6 months old, I was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma," he Daniel told us. "My parents were basically living in the hospital because they had told us I only had a 25% chance of making it to age 5."
His doctors at Akron Children's warned of possible side effects, from fine motor deficits to cognitive and learning delays.
"They had suggested studying an instrument, studying classical music as a way to keep the brain going," Daniel recalled.
Colaner’s exposure to music as cognitive therapy, combined with his love of sound, unleashed his passion for the piano at age 5 and organ at age 10. Daniel captured international media attention with his piano performance at Carnegie Hall and on organ at St. Patrick's Cathedral on the same day in 2017.
Additionally, Colaner always shares his musical talents at the Piano-a-thon, and this year is no different. He credits the hospital for saving his life, including Dr. Sarah Freibert, Director of the Palliative Care Division.
"[Music] enables them to step outside of themselves a little bit and return to who are they are as people and kids, instead of just being patients or sick or in the hospital," Freibert said.
One could call local music teacher Elaine Thompson, director of the fundraising event, "composer" of the Piano-a-thon.
"I wanted to give children a chance to learn how to give back to the community," Thompson said. "I'm just amazed. The people will give their time and effort to support this. It means a lot."
This exciting version of Piano-a-thon week runs through Friday. Students will be recording their performances and a certain number will be featured on Facebook each day during the virtual event.