D-MAN Foundation's annual gala to raise funds for Music Therapy

On Friday, October 18, at 8 p.m., Danny's Miracle Angel Network (D-MAN) Foundation hosts its fourth annual Hollywood Night at the Grande Ballroom of the Lafayette Grande in Pontiac.

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.

The gala will raise funds for the D-MAN Foundation's newest resource, its Music Therapy Studio.

The brainchild of D-MAN's founder, Ziad Kassab, and his brother Calvin, himself a musician, the Music Therapy Studio was borne out of their experience with the foundation's inspiration, Danny Kassab.

Danny: 'That's what I would sound like

Danny, the Kassab's younger brother, was severely injured in a car accident at age 7. He lived as a ventilator-dependant quadriplegic for sixteen years, until his death in 2009. Just months before his passing, Danny was brought into a recording studio by Calvin

Danny wanted desperately to record a rap song, but the process was difficult for him because of his breathing. They recorded his performance, and then edited out the breaks in his breath. What they were left with was Danny's voice without the interruption of his ventilator.

"Wow, that's what I would sound like if I could breath on my own," he told his brothers.

The experience was transformative  for all three brothers, and the older Kassabs became determined to create the Music Therapy Studio in honor of Danny.

Continuing the Dream

The only one of its kind in the nation, D-MAN's Music Therapy 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.

"We want to give patients back the opportunity that was taken away from them," says Ziad Kassab. "By providing the resources to engage them in cool things like creating music, we can help erase the stigma of being disabled."

Hollyween Night

This year's gala will raise money for patients to work in the 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 prize for the best wheelchair costume: $1000 toward the contestant's dream experience, such as a dream vacation.

Each year at the gala, D-MAN gives away three Spirit of Life Awards highlighting their clients' abilities rather than their disabilities, says Ziad Kassab.

"I believe God calls on all of us," he says. "It's up to us to answer the phone."

For directions and more information on the fundraiser, visit mydman.org.

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