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Davis Journal

Blessed to be active and healthy

May 12, 2023 12:41PM ● By Bryan Gray

Amid the clinking of glasses and the melon balls on the buffet table, Tessa Vaschel greeting selected donors eager to hear the announcement of Davis County’s “Summer Night’s with the Stars” concerts. 

A woman with a glass of wine sauntered up to her.

“I’d love to see John Mellencamp,” she said. “I saw him in Indiana when I was just a teen.”

Tessa responded that Mellencamp was a little too expensive for an 1,800 seat Davis County amphitheater, but that there would be a diverse range of concert acts from a local favorite to a country musician sought after for gigs with Johnny Cash, Elton John, and Bob Dylan.

“And here we go,” she said. The audience clapped as the 2023 performers appeared on the screen.

Guess Who! (No, not a question, but the rock band which notched nine Top Ten hits.)

And Grand Funk Railroad! (Okay, the drummer is the only original member performing, but the crowd will still be rocking to “The Locomotion,” a song first made famous by Carole King’s babysitter.)

From the Latin sounds of Tito Puente to the Utah-based pop of Mat and Savanna Shaw to tribute performances of Journey, Queen, and Bobby Darin…The donors smiled and whispered to their partners. (“Yes, I saw Journey – the real Journey – in Phoenix back in the day”… “You’re too young to remember Bobby Darin, but he was the Justin Bieber of his era”… “Queen, yeah rock on baby!”)

The lady with the glass of wine told total strangers at her table that she got married when the Little River Band was at its height of popularity. (“Well, the marriage didn’t last, but the band is still around – and now they’re coming to Davis County!”)

Tessa was encouraged by the reaction. From the response of the crowd, the county’s Kenley Amphitheater would again host a slew of sell-outs. Then she asked to say something else.

“It’s time to address the elephant in the room,” she told the party-goers. “As you can see, I’m in a wheelchair. The doctors told me I had a choice. I could leave this job and do something less strenuous, or stay and be in a wheelchair.”

“As some of you know, I took all the precautions during the pandemic. Like many of you, I still came down with COVID. Unlike most of you I never recovered. I have been diagnosed with Long COVID. I have little energy brain fog, and difficulty concentrating on anything for very long. The medical community doesn’t know why it occurs or if there will ever be a cure. But I’m here and, with you, looking forward to the season.”

The donors exited the building in the same hallway from which they entered. But as they left, there was one noticeable difference. 

There were couples hugging each other and holding hands tightly, blessed to be active and healthy, able to rock out this summer when the Queen tribute band blares out “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Bryan Gray, a longtime Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front.λ