Ten years ago this month, back when I was a full-time magazine editor, I had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of a dream in real time.

I’d spent several months in late 2007/early 2008 shadowing a local teacher named Betsey Zenk and her autistic student Latron Dodd. Latron didn’t read, write or talk but he had perfect pitch. Betsey used her music therapy background to connect with him through music. Shortly before winter break, she taught Latron some chords on a piano. When he returned, he was playing parts of “Moonlight Sonata.” Betsey was amazed. Through music, she began to see something come alive in Latron and she wanted to nurture that spark.

With the permission of Latron’s mom, she began to tailor his individual educational plan to incorporate music. She eventually did the same for all of her students. I met her and wrote my story when her work was just starting to yield some successful results. (You can read it here, if you like:

After the story was published, Betsey told me how much she enjoyed it and that it inspired her to get her nonprofit off the ground. It would be called Melodic Connections and she wanted me to be on the board. I was honored. We had our first board meeting in September 2008. That was the beginning of my six and a half years as the charity’s PR/Marketing chair, pitching the organization to every media outlet in town. Melodic Connections’ first class had 30 students. By the time I left the board, the organization was serving well over 300 students a year.

I look back fondly on my time with Melodic Connections and I always keep them in mind when I’m supporting philanthropic causes. So when we started thinking about charities to support with our upcoming Cowboy Bebop concert on Sept. 29, they were top of mind! And after hearing our big band practice on Sunday, I not only want to Melodic Connections, I want to help local students hear these amazing musicians play! (Seriously, this band is about to SWING!

That’s where you come in: go to, buy a ticket to the show and donate it to a local student who can’t afford one! Once you purchase a ticket, email and say you’re donating it to a student and we’ll add your name to our “Wall of Thanks”!

What are you waiting for? Take the #CowboyBebopChallenge TODAY!

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