Kids Rock Cancer pays tribute to Tom Eschen and Cynthia Briggs, PsyD, MT-BC. They both recently retired from Maryville, following many years of distinguished service. And together, nearly 10 years ago, they created the Kids Rock Cancer music therapy program.
It all began in January 2008, when Tom read a New York Times article about a songwriting program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston for kids with cancer: “Purple Songs Can Fly.” The idea struck a chord, and began to take shape when he accepted a position just a few months later as vice president for Institutional Advancement at Maryville. Tom knew Maryville had the only music therapy program in the St. Louis region. He brought the idea for Kids Rock Cancer to the program’s director, Cynthia Briggs, and she embraced it immediately. Plans quickly fell into place, and little more than a year later Kids Rock Cancer had a project director, a music therapist and a hospital partner. The first Kids Rock Cancer session took place in November 2009 at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center (now SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital). Working with music therapist Tracie Sandheinrich, 12-year old Tyler created the first original song, “Faith Through my Weakness.” A rock star was born.
More than 1,400 participants later, the program is thriving at hospitals, support centers and summer camps throughout St. Louis. Thank you, Tom and Cynthia, for creating the Kids Rock Cancer legacy at Maryville. Congratulations, and rock on!