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Sharing a story of inspiration

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Patrick Henry Hughes visits E’town, performs at the PAC

By Marianne Hale

By MARIANNE HALE mhale@thenewsenterprise.com

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ELIZABETHTOWN — At 26, Patrick John Hughes dreamed of having a son who would grow up to play on a football field at a major university. When his son, Patrick Henry Hughes, was born blind and unable to fully straighten his limbs, which prohibits him from ever walking, Patrick John said he buried that dream. But Patrick Henry would make his father’s once-forgotten wish come true.

But it wasn’t football that landed now 21-year-old Patrick Henry on the University of Louisville field; it was a trumpet, which he plays with the U of L Marching Band as his father pushes his wheelchair in time with the band.

Patrick Henry, now a senior at U of L, shared his musical talent and story with Hardin Countians on Monday at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center. The Elizabethtown Area Christian Women’s Connection sponsored the visit.

Patrick Henry’s performance was a chance for many in the PAC audience to see someone they first met through a TV screen, perhaps from Hughes’ “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or ESPN appearances. For Elizabethtown resident Kim Medley, the visit presented a chance to reunite with someone she met years ago.

Medley said she helped take care of Hughes at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington when he was 11 and she was a nursing student at the University of Kentucky.

She said Patrick Henry had the same positive attitude and poise at 11 that he now shares with the world at speaking engagements and musical performances across the U.S. and other countries.

It’s Patrick Henry’s positive outlook and inspirational story that the local Christians Women’s Connection members wanted to bring to the Elizabethtown community, said MaryKaye Hopkins, chairwoman of the local group.

“He has a message of inspiration — a message to show the young people and the older people that there is always hope,” she said.

Hopkins said the $10 ticket for the concert was well worth the price.

For $10, concertgoers listened to Patrick Henry play piano and sing along with songs including “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” “America the Beautiful” and one of his own pieces, “Look Within,” which he talked about with the audience.

Patrick Henry said he doesn’t consider his blindness to be a handicap. He said sight can be a disability because it causes people to judge others on outward appearances.

“I only see that which is within a person,” he said.

The concert started with a standing ovation, as the audience welcomed Patrick Henry and his father.

Following his performance of “Look Within,” Patrick Henry asked the audience to sing along with a verse of “America the Beautiful.” They obliged, standing as their voices joined Patrick Henry’s.

It ended with a standing ovation.   Marianne Hale can be reached at (270) 505-1740.