As a successful artist and activist, Peter Yarrow’s talent is legendary. His gift for songwriting has produced some of the most moving songs Peter, Paul & Mary have recorded, including Puff, The Magic Dragon, Day Is Done, The Great Mandala and Light One Candle. His musical creativity has always gone hand in hand with his commitment to social justice and equity in society. And today, he’s reaching a whole new generation with his music and advocacy.
“We’re part of a long train ride,” is the way Peter Yarrow visualizes the many events that have highlighted a career spanning more than four decades. Yarrow places the success he’s had within a greater context, seeing his accomplishments as part of a tradition, to be credited and carried on. “When I was in high school,” he recalls, “I heard The Weavers’ concert at Carnegie Hall where they sang songs such as ‘If I Had a Hammer,’ and ‘Wasn’t That a Time.’ It was inspiring, and it showed me the extraordinary effect that music of conscience can have.” That lesson launched Peter on a lifelong path that is now, perhaps, in its most vital phase.
Peter Yarrow’s life and work, culminating in the founding and leadership of Operation Respect, embraces the premise that if each person finds a way to articulate his or her own voice and joins with others, together they can become a powerful force for the transformation of society.
At the very active age of 73, Peter is not about to give up the demanding path he’s chosen. “We’ve lived through a time in which people have felt they could forge their own future and make a better world,” he said. “We may not have achieved our dreams in the time frame that we once believed was possible, but the magnitude of what is yet to be achieved only confirms the importance of our commitment. This is a crucial time in U.S. history, where the avenues of possibility are opening up like never before. Knowing this, we can’t stop now.”
At a recent book signing, Peter met the grandparents of 4 year old Ezra Fineman who suffers from a rare primary immune deficiency and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. After hearing Ezra's story, Peter offered to help to bring awareness to the importance of becoming a bone marrow donor and supporting the ongoing testing efforts of potential donors.
Ezra is an active little boy who loves space shuttles, music and basketball. Ezra has an enormous capacity to learn, laugh and captivate all who meet him. At 5 months old, Ezra was diagnosed with Hyper IgM Syndrome, a disease that prevents his body from producing antibodies to fight infection. Ezra's parents were told that a stem cell transplant was necessary for his long term survival. The family contacted the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation to help them find a match as no suitable donor had been identified within his family or any worldwide registry. Despite a 2 year effort of searching, no match was found for Ezra and in May of 2012, Ezra's parents made the difficult decision to move forward with a mismatched umbilical cord blood unit as the stem cell source. Unfortunately, the transplant has failed and Ezra continues to wait for his miracle cure. He still needs to find his perfect marrow match. The efforts to find Ezra's match have resulted in over 5400 new donors added to the registry and matches for 87 other patients in need.
Today's concert can help Ezra as well as the thousands of other patients searching.
Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation helps children and adults suffering from leukemia, lymphoma , other cancers, and genetic disorders find matching donors for blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants through the ongoing development and qualifications of its national registry. Gift of Life began as a grassroots effort to find a suitable matching donor for 22 year old Jay Feinberg in 1991. A four year search of 60,000 donors produced a life saving donor for Jay. The foundation has grown to be an internationally recognized registry that has facilitated over 2500 transplants for children and adults worldwide. Today Jay serves as Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gift of Life in the hopes of finding matches for patients. The vision of Gift of Life is simple: A match. Anytime. Anywhere. For anyone.
To become a bone marrow or stem cell donor, one must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in general good health. Joining the registry is done through a simple cheek swab. Each swab kit incurs a $60 lab processing fee. Today's concert will provide support to offset the cost of testing. More information can be found at www.giftoflife.org