No dreams deferred for Batrano
Everyone of us has dreams.
Sometimes, we live with dreams deferred because life seems to get in the way.
When Chris Batrano was diagnosed with ALS, he could have been one of those people to give up on his dreams because life, or more specifically, a very serious illness got in the way.
But Chris Batrano is not the type to give upon a dream. He’s more like a bull who pushes through every obstacle with sheer stubbornness.
That’s the way Toren Anderson describes her friend.
“It’s rare that a person gets to be a part of something that is truly unique and inspiring,” explained Anderson. “But I feel privileged to be part of Chris’ life, and this amazing quest of his.”
A Kickstarter Campaign has begun to help Chris achieve his dream of composing and producing music, despite his illness.
Chris, and his brother Michael, were just two Poplar Bluff kids growing up. Both loved music.
When Chris was diagnosed with ALS 18 years ago, it seemed his dreams might be out of reach.
Indeed, it seemed life itself might be out of reach, because the average ALS patient lives only two to five years following a diagnosis.
But Chris is still here, and he’s learned to use his gift for music in amazing new ways. He uses an eye tracking system and a pad under his only working finger to compose music with the assistance of music computer software that helps him get his thoughts and his musical vision into a musical reality.
The Kickstarter Campaign is designed to raise $50,000 so that Chris can actually compose, produce and distribute an album. The funds will help him pay for the constant care he needs, and give him a chance at as normal of a life as possible.
“Chris is just like anyone else,” explained Anderson. “He has a young son, and he wants to be an active participant in that boy’s life. We want to get a specially-equipped van so that he can transport his son to activities just like any father would.”
Chris also hopes his situation and a successful Kickstarter campaign will help him reach other disabled musicians, and let them know they are not alone, and that there is hope for them, also, to realize their dreams.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a disorder that involves the death of neurons in the body, thus resulting in stiff muscles, muscle twitching, and eventual muscle weakness because the muscles actually waste away. ALS patients commonly have problems with speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing.
Though the exact cause of ALS is not known, it is know that in 5 to 10 percent of the cases, the disorder is inherited. Right now there is no cure for ALS, though medications and treatments are improving and are extending lives. It is a relatively rare disorder, affecting about 2 people per 100,000 per year.
Of course the two most famous patients with the disorder were famed baseball player Lou Gehrig, and Stephen Hawking, the scientific genius who has also broken down barriers to achieve his dreams despite his illness. The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” helped bring the disorder to public awareness in 2014.
“I have just been so honored to help Chris get the word out about The Batrano Music Project,” concluded Anderson. “He is just simply an amazing guy.”
For those into music, Chris Batrano is known as a contemporary and alternative rock artist. He counts as his musical influences Journey, The Beatles, Foreigner, The Cars, The Fixx and Yes. Chris writes the music and some of the lyrics, and his brother, Michael, lends vocals, harmonies, and lyrics. On guitar are Jeff Chapman and Mark McPheeters.
“Chris started playing music with Michael when they were just teenagers, and to this day they love to collaborate,” said Anderson. “So this is not just a story about Chris…this is a story about brothers and the love they have for one another.” The Batrano family came to Poplar Bluff from Massachusetts in 1982. Their musical roots run deep, having had a father who plays keyboard.
Chris Batrano grew up loving sports, but music was always a part of his life. He played the trombone, piano, and saxophone. His love of the piano took him to electronic music and synthesizers, which linked him to technology. While in college, he took classes In everything from music to mathematics, economics, and computer science. He was a systems programmer when he learned he had ALS.
The Poplar Bluff brothers have both put an incredible amount of work to make this album a reality. Michael put his musical education to work to help Chris with the project.
The name of Chris’ album is “Off the Wall”, and it is no ordinary album. Literally, every note, every chord, and every beat was created by Chris with painstaking care. It has taken him years to develop enough material for this album.
“He is by far the most determined person I have ever met,” said Anderson of her friend.
The music is available via Batrano.com.
Though his hope is that this music will go international, and create a beacon of hope for many people, Chris still considers himself a Poplar Bluff guy.
“Chris is proud to be from Poplar Bluff,” said Anderson. “And I’d say Poplar Bluff has a lot of reason to be very proud of him.”
Chris hopes to not only help himself through the Batrano Music Project, but he would also like to become an ambassador of products needed by handicapped musicians. Anything he uses, he plans to “freecycle” by passing the technology on to other challenged musicians.
Among the items Chris needs to care for himself are: special beds, chairs and lifts, a special vehicle, medicine, breathing machines, feeding machines, customized computers, and caregivers.
Already the Kickstarter Campaign is meeting with success, having raised over $10,000 already. It is hoped the entire $50,000 will be raised by June 25.
Creating music with eyes & 1 finger. Batrano Music Project
Chris Batrano is all but fully paralyzed with ALS, yet still creates music with his eyes & 1 finger. He’s launching his debut CD