An unforgettable night of music and dance

From left, John, Janice, Nicole and Sophie Pilgrim with members of Leahy backstage at the NAC on Dec. 19, 2009.

It was December 19, 2009, just moments before Juno award-winning Canadian folk music group Leahy hit the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall stage.

In the nearby foyer, two young sisters from Ottawa, Sophie and Nicole Pilgrim, were giving a TV interview in the middle of the pre-concert buzz and chatter. It was a rare night out for the girls who suffered from a serious blood disorder.

“Being in the hospital during the holidays kind of stinks because you can't be with family or friends,” 12 year-old Sophie told the reporter as her 10 year-old sister looked on. “You just have to stay in a lonely bed with only one of your parents.” 

Her mother Janice added: “We often can't plan a lot in advance because you never know when they're going to be sick. So when you have organizations and people who will give us a benefit of doing a night like this, it's everything.” 

With that, the family took their seats for what would be an unforgettable evening. After the concert, they got to go backstage and meet members of Leahy, still glowing from their energetic music and dance and performance.

Six years of memories

Thanks to the National Arts Centre’s first-ever Share the Spirit, the Pilgrims had been able to enjoy a magical night. Share the Spirit, is an initiative aimed at families who, for economic or health reasons, may not have the opportunity to enjoy live performances at the NAC.

This year, as the sixth annual campaign gets underway, Share the Spirit – with the help of Presenting Partner Sun Life Financial and generous partners and donors – is once again making it possible for hundreds of families to attend performances of holiday classics such as Handel’s Messiah, The Nutcracker, the kinderconcert The World for Christmas, Alice Through the Looking Glass as well as A Matt Dusk Christmas with the NAC Orchestra and other wonderful productions throughout the NAC’s entire performance season – for free.

Ticket recipients will be chosen by the NAC’s community partners including Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa, Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, Candlelighters, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Foundation, Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, Community Living Renfrew County South, Odawa Native Friendship Centre, the Ottawa Food Bank, the Snowsuit Fund, Tamir Foundation, United Way, and the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region.

Checking in with Pilgrims

Reached by telephone recently, Janice Pilgrim had fond memories of that night in 2009.

She said that Nicole and Sophie, now aged 15 and 17 respectively, are doing well, although they continue to live with the blood disorder that have kept them in and out of the hospital for most of their young life. 

They continue to love the arts. Nicole sings with the Ottawa School Board Choir and Sophie performs with her school’s vocal ensemble.

“They love it,” said Janice.

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