PONTIAC (WWJ) – The Danny’s Miracle Angel Network (D-MAN) Foundation will host its fourth annual Hollywood Night at the Grande Ballroom of the Lafayette Grande in Pontiac on Friday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.
This year’s red carpet event takes on a new twist as Hollyween Night welcomes guests in either black-tie attire, or dressed in costume as their favorite celebrity.
Ziad Kassab started the D-MAN Foundation to honor his brother Danny, who, after getting severely injured in a car accident at age 7, lived as a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic until his death in 2009.
“We want to give patients back the opportunity that was taken away from them,” Kassab said. “By providing the resources to engage them in cool things like creating music, we can help erase the stigma of being disabled.”
This year’s gala will raise money for patients to work in the exclusive studio. Every $500 raised pays for ten hours in the studio for a patient. In addition to the money raised for the studio, there will also be a $1000 prize for the best wheelchair costume. The prize money will go toward the contestant’s dream experience, such as a dream vacation.
The foundation’s Music Therapy Studio implements computer technology, including something called the sip-and-puff. Kassab said that Danny, a music-lover, wanted desperately to record a rap song, but the process was difficult for him because of his breathing. So, they recorded his performance and edited out the breaks in his breath. What they were left with was Danny’s voice without the interruption of his ventilator.
“The straw allows them to sip or puff to click or double-click,” Kassab said. “That, in conjunction with an on-screen keyboard, allows them to have a keyboard and a mouse which pretty much allows them to so anything that you or I could do on a computer.”
The one-of-a-kind studio provides a unique “barrier-free” recording experience for patients with severe disabilities such as quadriplegia and severe mental, emotional, and cognitive impairment. With the help of audio engineers and licensed music therapists, the studio uses special assistive technology that allows users to control recording equipment without the use of hands or feet.
Kassab said the goal of the foundation is clear.
“Usually when you see somebody with a disability, human nature is to see the disability first,” Kassab explained. “Our objective is for them to see their ability first.”
Each year at the gala, the D-MAN Foundation gives away three Spirit of Life Awards highlighting their clients’ abilities rather than their disabilities.
“I believe God calls on all of us,” Kassab. “It’s up to us to answer the phone.”
Tickets are available along with more information about the event at the foundation’s website, http://mydman.org/.