My friend Maggie's dad was featured in the Redmond Reporter, Friday, June 3, 2011!
Rick Hoover, Redmond resident, regularly plays the piano at the Evergreen Medical Center Hospital in Kirkland, WA. What's so special about that? Rick has multiple sclerosis (MS) but has not let that stop him from giving back to the community. He plays the piano an hour a day, four days a week. He began this volunteer job in 2004. To date, Rick has played at Evergreen Hospital for more than 1,300 hours!
That a lot of hours…
How did he start? He told the Redmond Reporter, "I have a hard time passing by a good looking piano and not playing it...So, withouth anybody's permission, I just went up to it and started playing. I was here for the birth of one of my granddaughters."
Evergreen liked his volunteer spirit but does not allow just anyone to play the piano. Rick had to pass a tryout at a piano store, which he did. Once he aced the tryout, he officially became a volunteer.
Though MS makes it difficult, Rick keeps going
Playing isn't always easy because of his MS, which is a disease that affects the central nervous system. Rick has lived with MS for 20 years, and the disease progressed so rapidly that it put him in a wheelchair for the past 10 years.
Back to playing at Evergreen. Rick plays the piano by ear most of the time. One of the reasons, according to his explanation of the effects of disease on his life, is that his brain, eyes and fingers don't always cooperate with each other. He plays slow music…but luckily he likes slow music.
MS affects more than just his music. The disease impacts the messages from the brain. In Rick's case, no messages get to his right leg. During playing the piano, his right hand and back tire more easily. Sometimes he becomes sleepy — and occasionally he puts his head down on the piano to rest for a bit. But he keeps volunteering!
All this playing has not gone unnoticed.
Rick Hoover was featured on a billboard in Times Square in New York in March 2011. Marcia Hoover, Rick's wife, suggested Rick to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for the MS Awareness Week. A team came to his house to get to know him which led to his inclusion in the MS Awareness Week campaign. Rick had no idea what being chosen would mean. He knew that he would be included the MS magazine, but he had no idea that he would be on a billboard in New York's Times Square! "Congratulations, Rick."
He is an inspirational volunteer.
In addition to the MS honors, Rick Hoover was also selected to receive the Evergreen quarterly service award, in honor for his kindness and gift of music. A well-deserved honor.
Hoover enjoys volunteering and really looks forward to his hour at Evergreen. He plans to keep playing for as long as he can. What an inspiration to the rest of us!
Photos featured as part of MS Awareness Week, www.nationalmssociety.org