KENT, Ohio – A virtual benefit concert will be held live on Friday, January 7 to raise funds for a musician in Northeast Ohio living with a chronic illness.
Hal Walker is a musician living in Kent. He plays many instruments, and on his TikTok @banakula account, where he has 1.5 million followers, his talent as both singer and instrumentalist is obvious.
For 30 years, Walker has lived with a chronic illness that is not well understood.
“I had been a long-distance runner and long-distance cyclist,” Walker said of his symptoms suddenly onset in 1992. “I was going through a few weeks of stress and one morning I woke up on a Saturday morning in May, with strange symptoms in my body, and these symptoms never went away.
He added, “I have seen a lot of doctors and a lot of health professionals and really didn’t get a lot of help. It is a real mysterious disease.
Walker was eventually diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome, abbreviated as ME / CFS.
“The first time I heard of chronic fatigue syndrome, I knew it was what I had,” Walker said. “It is very difficult to get a diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis. Basically, once you’ve ruled everything out, you might be able to get that diagnosis. But when I hear the stories of other people living with ME / CFS, my story is the same and I’ve been living with it for 30 years.
Although this is a difficult diagnosis to receive— “Suddenly I went from a long-distance runner to a place where I couldn’t run across the street” —the symptoms gradually worsened for the woman. most and were manageable, until last summer.
“For some reason, this summer, summer 2021, I just went through accident after accident after accident, and it brought me to a place where I am bedridden and I need full time care,” said Walker said. “I’m someone who loves life and has a lot of passions and interests, and I have a lot of work left to do, so it’s not practical.”
Walker described previous “slowdowns” in his condition: in 2007 when he went to Thailand, in 2013 when he was in an accident. Each time, he said, he had to get used to a “new level of normalcy.” But this particular new standard is “pretty rough,” Walker said.
Walker’s three close friends from Northwestern University traveled from out-of-state to visit him when they learned he was falling ill.
“They stayed with me for weeks and helped out around the house and then came up with the idea to do this fundraiser,” Walker said.
The fundraiser, “A Love Song for Hal”, will air at 7 pm Friday. Viewers can register for free here.
Walker is well connected to the music world, especially after hosting a show called This Moment in Music last year.
“They went to my list of musicians for This Moment in Music and started asking and putting together an amazing lineup of artists for Friday night,” Walker said.
This includes Chris Martin from Coldplay, who discovered Walker’s music on Instagram (@halwalkermusic) and contacted him.
“We had a few phone conversations, and when I texted him to let him know what was going on with my health, he said, ‘How can I help?’ And I said, ‘Well you could play this fundraiser that we’re having on [January 7], he said, “I’d love to do that,” Walker said.
He added: “One of our acts is a megastar, and then there are 25 other acts which are just as impressive, but just not so well known.”
Walker said he felt “so blessed, so honored” to have a community of people coming together to help him. He knows that many people with ME / CFS don’t.
“They call the hashtag #millionsmissing, and everyone in the world who doesn’t have a sitter, who doesn’t have friends who do a GoFundMe for them, and everyone who goes to the doctor and doesn’t get diagnosed, without just getting help, “Walker said.” This disease is so poorly recognized and poorly funded and just not taken seriously. And I’ve been living this for 30 years, but even more now because it ‘is so serious. “
Walker pointed out the poor quality of life that accompanies ME / CFS.
“It’s a chronic disease with no cure […] and no prognosis. And people live in total pain, you know, “Walker said.” Comparatively speaking, that’s not the one you want to get. “
A portion of the proceeds from Friday’s benefit concert will go to ME / CFS research at the Open Medicine Foundation.
Olivia Fecteau is a reporter for News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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