Guitar concert to benefit local doctor

John Winn plays his newest song for his friend Dr. Ed Harris. A benefit concert is planned to purchase Harris a voice-activated computer.

John Winn meets his friend, Dr. Ed Harris, twice a week at Coffee Muggers to discuss poetry, religion and old country music.

They met at the coffee shop five years ago and have been steadfast friends ever since.

Often he takes his guitar and serenades Harris with his latest song. “He always hears my stuff first,” Winn, a local songwriter and musician said, as he strummed and played Tuesday morning.

Harris nodded his head and smiled as he listened to the music. It is nearly his full range of motion. Harris was stricken with polio and suffered a drug overdose which left him permanently in a wheelchair since the age of 10.

For a year after the overdose, Harris suffered from what he called, “locked-in symdrome,” where he was able to hear but unable to communicate. He finally grunted, letting the nurses know that he was still mentally sound.

Surely his caregivers in the 1950s never would have predicted that Harris, who is also left visually-impaired,  would complete three college degrees, including his Phd, making him a doctor in theology. Or that he would be the author of an autobiographical book, “Sometimes bent, but never broken.”

Winn describes his friend as “the Grand Junction Steven Hawking,” who is known for his incredible mental power and his physical disability due to Lou Gehrigs’s disease.

“I’m just me,” Harris said, “it’s a little bit embarrassing really.”

“Ed, you have a lot to give,” Winn said, adding that is the reason why a charity concert is planned this weekend to help purchase a voice-activated computer for Harris.

“Three Guitars and a Mandolin” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at The Chapel at Canyonview Vineyard Church, 736 24 ½ Road.

Winn, Cullen Purser, John Scott Schultz, and Javier de los Santos will perform a variety of original guitar songs at “people’s prices,” Winn said.

The money raised will be given to LaBrita Retreat, Inc. who will purchase the computer, voice-activated programs, Internet access and maintenance fee with the money.

Harris plans on using the computer to write one, if not two, new books.

Tickets are $10 in advance and available at Roper Music. Cost is $15 at the door.

“If you like guitars this is a must-see,” Winn said, adding that he hopes the concert also raises the public’s awareness of “how much modern technology can help people with disabilities live a better life.”


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