HomeFrom The Wreckage: how a devastating accident helped me rediscover my passion

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Before my wedding in 2001, I was very, VERY involved with contemporary a cappella.  I sang in groups during college. I founded new groups after college.  I was a CASA Ambassador, a RARB reviewer, and an ICCA producer. I arranged over 150 songs in a 10 year span. I was hooked.  A cappella was my passion.
Then I stopped doing it, except for one-off very occasional things, such as anniversary reunions. I had a family and a life to build, but I figured at some point I would be able to come back to it. A cappella, I thought, would always be there when I was ready to come back to it.
That thought process changed, forever, on June 23, 2009. Two days after seeing many of my friends at a reunion for one of my former groups, I was hit head-on by another vehicle. My legs were crushed on impact and I had several other dangerous injuries.  I took my first ride on a helicopter and wasn't even coherent enough to enjoy it. When I arrived at the hospital, they gave me anesthesia and prepared me for surgery.
That would be my last conscious thought for a month. I awoke in an acute care hospital with a tracheotomy tube in my throat, my legs fractured in several places.  I was told it would be months before I would even be able to try to walk, and my right foot, nearly severed in the accident, was in danger of amputation. I spent two months hospitalized, two more in a nursing facility, and another three weeks in rehab before I was allowed to return home in November.
Since then, it's been a long road. Healing has been a long process, and there are permanent changes to my body, although I still have my foot. Additionally, the tracheotomy caused advanced scarring in my throat that inhibited my breathing. Surgery removed the scarring, but it also changed my voice so that my ability to sing was compromised. In many ways, that was the most devastating after-effect of what had happened.
However, hope came through an upcoming reunion with one of the groups I sang with while at Penn State University. In preparation for this, I started arranging again. And it helped me to remember what I loved about a cappella music; even if I can't sing on my own, I still had a gift and a way to contribute and be a part of the music I loved and was passionate about.

Today, I have a business providing arrangements for others, which I see as more of a labor of love than a revenue of income. I'm slowly regaining ties to others active in the medium. I've rejoined CASA as a member. I hope to be able to do more things as my health improves to its "new normal", attend festivals, meet many of the people I follow on Twitter, those that now inspire me to be the best I can be at what I am able to do.
With the injuries I had, I should have died, and was told by several doctors that it’s a miracle I didn’t. The fact that I didn't tells me I have unfinished business here. I don't know for SURE if that's a cappella related, but the roads that are opening as I bring myself back seem to point in that direction. My sincerest wish is to help others chase and follow their passions as I try to chase mine. Because just when you think you've lost something forever, something happens to prove you wrong.  Maybe my singing days are over. But continuing to follow my passion can most definitely be arranged.

About the author:
Shawn Pearce is a former CASA Ambassador for Pennsylvania, a former RARB reviewer and a former ICCA producer.  He was active in the Penn State University a cappella scene for several years after college, founding two groups and directing two others while there.  Today, he's chasing his passions through his arranging at valuevocals.com and is rediscovering what it means to be part of the a cappella "scene". He has spent the last 10+ years married to his best friend and has two children, one of whom already beatboxes.

photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thejunk


Thank you!


Thank you for this article, and for your passion.

You're welcome!

Thanks for taking the time to comment.  I hope to be able to write more in the future.

RARB Reviewer CASA PA Ambassador [url=http://valuevocals.com][b][=#008040]Value Vo

You are inspiring!

Your story not only inspired me but reminded me of my own story. I'd love to share mine with you sometime.


Sure!   You can reach me through here if you'd like.

RARB Reviewer CASA PA Ambassador [url=http://valuevocals.com][b][=#008040]Value Vo

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