Thursday, August 23, 2012

Concert For A Cure

North Texas Team In Training participant, Elizabeth Leonard, is currently fundraising for the Nike Women's Marathon.  The article below was featured on the front page of the McKinney Courier Gazette this week.
For Elizabeth Leonard, music is "what feelings sound like." And hers are fairly obvious without it. "If I'm not singing, I'm a sad puppy," Elizabeth said. Albeit one who's running, raising money and rearing five children. The McKinney marathoner-singer-mother is putting it all together. She and her band will perform Concert for a Cure at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
Ticket sales will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), Elizabeth's reason for running. And her feelings should sound anything but sad. "This concert's for people to have fun, it's not a call for donations," said Jud, who doubles as Elizabeth's husband and guitarist. "People can expect to come and just enjoy themselves. They won't be disappointed."  Presented by Texas Pediatric Dentistry, the concert's set list will run the "feelings" gamut, from classic rock to new country to Aretha Franklin. "It's definitely music for all ages; I think there will be something for everybody," Elizabeth said.
It will be a show-up from the harmonic couple's smaller concert last year at their church, St. Gabriel's in McKinney, where Elizabeth and Jud sing worship every Sunday. That show was just a portion of Elizabeth's LLS fundraising; this one could be all of it. Her goal is $4,500, still seemingly a small contribution toward such an overwhelming cause that's touched millions, including the Leonards. Elizabeth's brother-in-law's 17-year-old brother died of leukemia a couple of years back, and her mother's friend recently lost her 3-year-old daughter to the same disease.
When Elizabeth got a Team in Training/LLS pamphlet in the mail last spring, marathoner was soon added to the singer-mother persona.  "I held onto that pamphlet for at least a month, and each time I looked at it, I was reminded of my high school friend whose daughter, the same age as my oldest daughter, had suffered through the diagnosis and treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia," Elizabeth said. "While I was intrigued at taking on the challenge of running a marathon, the opportunity to take part in fighting this awful disease prompted me to sign myself up with Team in Training."  She trained with leukemia survivors, parents of blood-cancer patients and others with a heart for healing, then ran her first marathon in the fall. She will run the LLS-benefitting Nike Women's Marathon in October in San Francisco.  "I think the team really looks at her as a valued representative, so I think she plays a big part," Jud praised. "A lot of members raise money, but she does it very publicly when she sings...hers is very transparent to the community, so I think it's a great way to raise awareness."  Elizabeth the singer was first. She earned a bachelor's degree in vocal performance from Illinois Wesleyan University and her master's in vocal pedagogy (voice teaching) from Texas Woman's University.
After he saw Elizabeth singing at a Dallas church's youth service, Jud approached her, and "the rest, for the most part, is history," Elizabeth recalled.  With Jud at her side in tune and romance, entered Elizabeth the mother. They now share a life, stage and family of seven. Their youngest child starts kindergarten this year, so all five will be in school.  "If it was just practicing and running," Jud started. ..."It'd be a piece of cake," Elizabeth interrupted.  But school-day hours won't be the expected hiatus for this multi-mama. She's back in school for nursing, the latest addition to her ever-changing role. "It's about to get really crazy," she said.  Her jogging shoes off, Elizabeth forms another team with Jud, one that's been in training for many years. They're used to the crazy.  And music's their escape. Elizabeth teaches voice lessons, and the duo performs monthly acoustic shows downtown and at Adriatica. Elizabeth picks the songs.  "She's the real singer," Jud said. "I sing only when she needs a break, and that's not a lot."
Breaks are for her listeners, many of whom she hopes fill MPAC in a few weeks. Soda, beer and wine will be available for their own concert escape.  With longtime band mates beside her, Elizabeth will belt out her feelings -- how only a marathoner-singer-mother can. "It's a release for me," she said. "I just love to perform." Concert for a Cure tickets cost $12 and can be purchased at, where separate donations to LLS can be made.

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