Houston's Grand Opera shares performance with families with ill children

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Jessica Willey reports on a special opera performance for ill kids in Houston. (KTRK)

A special performance for families with seriously-ill children helped to lift spirits this holiday.

For the first time in their history, the Houston Grand Opera's "Opera-to-go" and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) joined forces to bring a live show to the families of the Ronald McDonald House Houston.

The main room of the massive house on Holcombe was transformed into a theater. Only Eyewitness News was there, and for 45 minutes, the children and their families were mesmerized.

"They are separated from their dads. They are separated from siblings. They are separated from grandparents, and so we are going out of our way to make it special for these families during the holiday season," explained Leslie Bourne, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Houston.

Evenings are very routine at the House, which serves as a home-away-from-home for the families of children seeking treatment in The Medical Center. That's why the out-of-the ordinary is so important.

"It can take their minds off whatever struggles they're going through," said Dennis Arrowsmith, Touring and Ensembles Manager, Houston Grand Opera.

The performers presented the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, a children's classic, which was chosen for the audience.

"It's the timeless story of the enduring bond between a child and his favorite toy. It's a story of unconditional love," explained Arrowsmith.

The show lifted spirits and Brandon Guerrero, 12, a lung transplant recipient and amputee, saw something he doesn't normally see.

"When I'm here, they usually don't laugh," he said of the children in the audience.

Brandon's mother added that it was a much-needed distraction.

"It's really nice," said Maria Elena Guerrero, of the performance. "It helps us out, gets our minds out of what we're going through. A lot of these families here have a lot on our minds. Every kid here has a different situation but deep inside we're all here for the same reason. We're all here to get our kids better."

More information: Ronald McDonald House Houston.
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