Pediatric Patients at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to Benefit from Concert at The Ark

Ann Arbor, MI – Pediatric patients and their families at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will benefit from an upcoming concert being held at The Ark on April 6th. All funds raised during this special evening will support the Micah Smiles Fund for Music Therapy at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The Music Therapy program provides comfort, joy and peace to pediatric patients and their families, many of whom are experiencing incredibly difficult medical treatments, surgeries and terminal illnesses.

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has tripled the reach of its music therapy program in recent years with help from the Micah Smiles Fund. The Micah Smiles Fund was established in December of 2012 in memory of Micah Canvasser, who spent 10 months at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Micah and his family treasured the music therapy program during Micah’s hospitalization. When Micah passed away, his family wanted to help bring the healing sound of music to more families, and so the Micah Smiles Fund for Music Therapy was born. image-3

The Micah Smiles Music Fellow, Susan Smiddy, explains, “As a board-certified music therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, I work directly with patients and families to enhance their quality of life during their hospitalization. There is nothing more beautiful than to see my pediatric patients smile or light up, whether it’s while playing an instrument, writing their first song, or singing their favorite song. It’s truly an honor to be part of these children’s lives and to see the joy that music can bring to them during their hardest times.”

Last year, 10 year-old Malea Hill, who was born with Dialated and LVNC Cardiomyopathy, went into heart failure and was hospitalized at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for months awaiting a heart transplant. During this difficult time, the music therapy program uplifted Malea’s spirits and kept her positive during life’s most difficult moments. Last summer, Malea received the Gift of Life: a new heart. Malea shares, “Music therapy helped me to cope with everything going on with my heart, and I felt so much happier when I was able to sing with Susan.” Thanks to Malea’s  bravery and passion for music, she will perform during the Micah Smiles Benefit Concert on April 6th.

The April 6th benefit concert at The Ark will feature Acoustic Eidolon, who tour around the world with their melodies that blend Celtic, Folk, World and Latin music into one amazing musical feast.

The Micah Smiles Fund is grateful to the benefit concert’s sponsors:

Delta Air Lines
First Comes Love Photo
Mary & Gary Vonck
Pinckney Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM
University of Michigan Credit Union

The benefit concert will also hold a silent auction before the show and during intermission, featuring items from local businesses and artists, including:

Adam Plomaritas
Art by Judy Clement Wall
Bigalora Cucina
Detroit Zoo
Elephant Ears
Five Monkeys Bakery
Frita Batidos
Grizzly Peak Brewing Company
Guitar Center
Hilton Garden Inn Ann Arbor
Kevin Smith
Leslie Napolitano
Litzenberg Family
Mary & Gary Vonck
Main Street Ventures
Simply Stitched By Gina
The Lunch Room
The Little Seedling
Zingerman’s Coffee Co.

All proceeds benefit the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Micah Smiles Fund for Music Therapy. Benefit concert tickets can be purchased by visiting The Ark’s website. Sponsorship and donation opportunities are still available, please reach out for more information.

Second Annual Benefit Concert for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Micah Smiles Fund for Music Therapy

We are thrilled to hold our second annual benefit concert for the Micah Smiles Fund on April 1st at The Ark! We’re welcoming back the incredibly talented Acoustic Eidolon, who tour around the world with their melodies that blend Celtic, Folk, World & Latin music into one amazing “musical feast!”


2014 Benefit Concert for Mott’s Micah Smiles Fund

Get your tickets now for the April 1st benefit concert at The Ark!

All concert proceeds go directly to Mott Children’s Hospital’s Micah Smiles Fund for music therapy.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Micah Smiles Fund ensures the healing sound of music reaches more of Mott’s children and families.

Mott’s music therapy program brings comfort, joy and peace to Mott’s children and families, many of whom are experiencing incredibly difficult medical treatments, surgeries and terminal illnesses.

The Micah Smiles Fund was established in December of 2012 in memory of Micah Canvasser, who spent nearly 10 months at Mott Children’s Hospital. Micah and his family treasured Mott’s music therapy program during Micah’s hospitalization. When Micah passed away, his family wanted to help bring the healing sound of music to more families and children, and so the Micah Smiles Fund for Music Therapy was born.

In just two years, the Micah Smiles Fund has tripled the capacity of Mott’s music therapy program. To sustain this incredible progress, the Micah Smiles team hosts an annual benefit concert at The Ark. All proceeds go directly to the Micah Smiles Fund, which ensures the healing sound of music reaches more children at Mott.

The Micah Smiles Team is incredibly grateful to the following sponsors and supporters of the 2015 Benefit Concert:

Abby Rose Photography
Carole Napolitano
Delta Air Lines
Mary & Gary Vonck
Pinckney Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM
University of Michigan Credit Union


Kevin Bouton, opening the 2014 benefit concert

Sponsorship and donation opportunities are still available! Please email the Micah Smiles team if you’d like to support the April 1st benefit concert:

Once again, the benefit concert will hold a silent auction before the show and during intermission, featuring gift cards and beautiful items from local businesses and artists. We are grateful to all of our silent auction donors:

Anne Klein Barna
Arbor Hills Pet Boarding and Daycare
Aron Reina
Bigalora Cucina
Bivouac Ann Arbor
Bravo! Cucina Italiana
Elizabeth Sheeren
Frita Batidos
Hilton Garden Inn
Insomnia Cookies Ann Arbor
Judy Clement Wall
Mainstreet Ventures Restaurants
Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea
The Lunch Room, Bakery & Cafe
The Little Seedling
The M Den
Zingerman’s Bakehouse

In 2014 we were honored to have Kevin Bouton, a young musician who treasures Mott’s music therapy program, open the show for us. This year, we’re thrilled to be welcoming Mia Litzenberg, another young musician who benefited from Mott’s music therapy program during her hospitalization. We are excited for Mia to share her story and talent with us!

2015_MicahSmilesConcert2Thank you to everyone who’s committed to bringing more music to more kiddos at Mott Children’s Hospital!

We look forward to seeing YOU on April 1st at The Ark!!

If you have questions, check out our FAQ page.

You can learn more about Mott’s music therapy program by visiting:

You can learn more about the 2014 benefit concert by visiting:

You can learn more about the healing power of music by visiting:

How We’re Celebrating Our Twins’ 3rd Birthday When One of Our Birthday Boys Is No Longer Here

My twin boys, Micah and Zachary, have their 3rd birthday coming up, and like most moms, I’m thinking about what kind of cake to bake and how to celebrate their special day. But, unlike most moms, Go BlueI’ll be celebrating my twins’ birthday with only one of my twins in my arms because the other twin only lives in my heart.

A month before Micah and Zachary’s first birthday, Micah passed away from complications of necrotizing enterocolitis. The loss of Micah is devastating. A piece of myself died with my son. Still, I am incredibly blessed because I have beautiful Zachary, a superman husband, a rockstar mom, and an amazingly supportive community.

As any parent can imagine, I was a disaster in the days, weeks and months after Micah’s passing. I had to relearn how to eat, breathe and sleep without Micah. Once I could handle these basic tasks of living, I realized that I had to find ways to stay connected and close to Micah. It was obvious that the loss of Micah was going to hurt every day for the rest of my life. I had to accept and adapt to the pain, and then do something beautiful with it.

And, I have.

I’ve finally reached that place, and it is liberating. I own the heartache of Micah. I celebrate Micah, speak his name, and share his story in ways that bring me peace. I love that I can now confidently and calmly say:

It is Micah and Zachary’s birthday.

For the rest of my life, I will celebrate Micah and Zachary’s birthday. Micah’s birthday didn’t leave this earth with him. Micah’s birth day is still Micah’s birthday. To celebrate Zachary’s birthday without also celebrating Micah’s would feel like a lie to me, to Zachary, to our family and friends and to the incredible community that loves Micah.

Thankfully, most of my friends and family have never lost a child, so it’s up to me to tell them how I want to be supported. And, I do. I happily ask my family and friends who wish Zachary a happy birthday, to please somehow include Micah in that wish, too, because it hurts when Micah is left out.

My husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our twins’ 3rd birthday, and here’s what we’re doing:

  1.  We’re giving back
    Giving back to other families in honor of Micah brings us peace. In lieu of gifts, we have asked our family and friends to donate children’s books to our NICU’s Micah and Zachary Giving Library, or to make a monetary donation to the Micah Smiles Fund for music therapy. Micah adored music and books, and we adore giving these special gifts to other families in the hospital. Zachary is especially excited to help collect books for the babies at the hospital!
  1. We’re doing what feels right
    We’re going to sing Happy Birthday to Micah and Zachary. We’re going to hang up birthday banners that include Micah and Zachary’s names. We’re not going to worry about being judged by other people. We’re doing what brings us peace, comfort and closeness to our sons.
  1. We’re having fun
    We’ve learned how to cry and laugh in the same moments. We’ve learned how to grieve our loss while we celebrate our many blessings. We’re going to have a blast celebrating our boys’ birthday. We’re going to act silly, play games and have fun with Zachary…while we also ache and desperately miss Micah.

Zachary talks about Micah every day. He has pretend phone conversations with Micah. He plays with Micah’s toys, sleeps with his blankets, and includes his name in songs. Zachary carries Micah’s spirit and always will. Their connection as twins is endless, even though they were separated before they could even understand the loss.

We’re celebrating Micah’s birthday along with Zachary’s to sooth our broken hearts and to nurture Zachary’s. We need to say Micah’s name, and Zachary needs to hear Micah’s name. We need to know that our family and friends haven’t forgotten about our son. Zachary needs to know that we will never forget about his twin.DSC_5632

If you know a family who’s lost a child, please remember their sweet little one’s birthday and check out this list of what never to say to bereaved parents. Speak the child’s name. It is music to our ears to hear someone speak the beautiful name that we planned to say 42 million times over our lifetime as we shopped for groceries, played at the parks and gave kisses goodnight. It is a gift to see Micah’s name written and hear Micah’s name spoken. If you can give that gift to bereaved parents, please give it, especially around birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.

Thank you to the amazing community who’s celebrating Micah and Zachary. Happy birthday, sweet boys!

When Music for Mott Is All Mia Wants for Her 11th Birthday

Thanks to the generosity of Hannah and Joe of Acoustic Eidolon, we held the first Micah Smiles benefit concert for Mott’s music therapy program on April 30, 2014. It was a magical evening of celebrating Micah, raising awareness about the healing powers of music, and helping to bring more healing music to more kiddos at Mott Children’s Hospital. The very next evening, our family joined Bob, Mott’s music therapist, and Meredith, the Micah Smiles music therapy fellow, on the 12th floor of Mott for Skyline Café, where Acoustic Eidolon, Bob and Meredith played for dozens of Mott’s kiddos and their families.

Acoustic Eidolon’s music is out-of-this-world beautiful. If you missed the 2014 benefit concert, be sure to join us at The Ark on April 1, 2015 where Acoustic Eidolon will perform again to benefit the Micah Smiles Fund for Mott’s Music Therapy. Acoustic Eidolon played at Skyline Café until it was Meredith’s turn to come up and play a few songs. Every time I hear Meredith play, I feel closer to Micah. It’s almost as though Micah is the music in Meredith’s songs. My heart melted when Meredith invited a young patient named Mia Litzenberg to join her in the next couple of songs. Meredith strummed her guitar while Mia sang, and it was simply beautiful and magical.

Meredith and Mia

Meredith and Mia

Even though Mia was in the hospital for several days to receive treatments for her severe eczema (a skin condition that affects more than 30 million Americans), she was overjoyed to have the gift of music to lift her spirits and help her heal. Mia leaned in close to Meredith and her face lit up with joy, as they played and sang for the other Mott children and families, together.

As Skyline Café came to a close that evening, I made my way over to Mia and her mom to express how much I loved her performance. We exchanged contact information and have stayed in touch via email and Facebook.

Recently, Mia’s mom emailed me to let me know that Mia’s 12th birthday was just around the corner, and instead of birthday gifts, Mia had asked her family and friends to donate to the Micah Smiles Fund for music therapy so that more of Mott’s kiddos could enjoy the same healing music that she did during her stay at Mott. Music holds a special place in Mia’s heart as she takes both voice and piano lessons on the side.

I was blown away. Mia’s generosity, compassion and thoughtfulness brought tears to my eyes. I was honored that Mia thought of Micah, music therapy, and the children at Mott Children’s Hospital during her birthday.

While most kids create a long list of birthday presents they’re hoping for and rip open present after present, Mia did not want anything for her birthday. All she wanted was to give the gift of music to kids in the hospital. And so she did.

Mia celebrating her 12th birthday

Mia celebrating her 11th birthday

Mia recently celebrated her 11th birthday and asked all of her family and friends to donate to the Micah Smiles Fund for music therapy. In honor of Mia’s birthday, over $500 was contributed to the Micah Smiles Fund, which will be used to bring more music to more kiddos at Mott.

I had dinner with Mia and her parents after her birthday celebration, and Mia was ecstatic, proud and grateful to celebrate her birthday in such a beautiful, meaningful way. Mia explained that she has everything she needs, and all she wants is for other kids to benefit from music the way she did. Giving is what makes Mia happy, not receiving birthday gifts that she doesn’t need or may not even like. Mia explained that Meredith’s music, smile and joy helped her to heal and lifted her spirits when she was really down from being in the hospital. It’s a gift she’ll always treasure and wants to share with others.

Happy birthday, Mia, you are an inspiration! Thank you for helping the Micah Smiles Fund bring the healing sound of music to more kiddos at Mott!

October Micah Smiles Blood Drive: in honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month

DSC_5225In honor of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, we’re holding a Micah Smiles Blood Drive on Thursday, October 23rd from 1pm-7pm at Zingerman’s Corman Farms. Micah received 211 units of blood during his 11 months here on Earth. We’re inspired to give back. The only reason we were able to bring our precious Micah home was because of generous blood donors. Without blood donors, we would have never known Micah’s smiles.

Every year in the U.S. thousands of families lose their babies, and many more experience miscarriages or stillbirths. October’s Micah Smiles Blood Drive will honor and celebrate Micah and every baby with wings.

Rowan's program photo July 2014

Sweet Baby Rowan

We are joining with other local families who have lost their babies. Please join us on October 23rd as we celebrate these precious babies and donate blood in their honor.

Baby Rowan

Baby Haley

Appointments are strongly encouraged, please make your appointment today by visiting:

In a recent blog, Once My Child, Always My Child, I wrote:

On the surface, my family looks perfect. My husband and I are healthy, and we have a vibrant, healthy toddler. Our years of infertility, our miscarriage and the death of our firstborn son Micah are all invisible. There are thousands of families who share our story. It’s very likely that you know a family who’s lost a child… you just might not know about their loss. Please, help us honor, celebrate and remember our precious babies by:DSC_9885

It means the world to us when our friends, family, colleagues and even perfect strangers help us honor, remember and celebrate our babies. Thank you for your support, we hope to see you on October 23rd at Cornman Farms!!

If you know a family who’s lost their child who might like to join us at the blood drive, please email me. If you have questions about the blood drive, please email me:

Remembering Baby Rowan

No parent ever imagines that they will have to live without their child. No parent ever plans on it happening to them. The loss of a child is always something that happens to some other terribly unlucky soul…until it tragically happens to you. Rowan's program photo July 2014

Suddenly, you find yourself living the nightmare. You have a hard time breathing, eating, sleeping, living. You wonder how you’ll ever live without your precious child in your arms. The pain is so raw, so deep, so indescribable that it is all encompassing.

As the days without your child turn into weeks, you realize some of the people you considered close friends or family have distanced themselves from you. Your loss is so devastating that they seemingly cannot figure out how to talk to you or be around you, let alone support you. Perhaps even worse, is when these loved ones say or do things that contribute to your shattered heart.

But, then there’s other people, with such a deep sense of empathy that they know exactly how to show their love and support without adding to your heartache. You find yourself in disbelief that many of these most supportive people are individuals you hardly even know, like Andy, and his wife Megan.

I met Andy through my work at the Ecology Center, we hardly knew each other, but he and Megan have been incredibly supportive since our loss of Micah. They’ve listened to our tragic story, they’ve sent heartfelt notes, they’ve contributed time and time again to our efforts of giving back in honor of Micah.

Andy and Megan never imagined they would experience the same loss.

Recently, Andy and Megan tragically lost their baby boy Rowan just three days after he was born. They ask for prayers for their family and baby Rowan during this incredibly difficult time. Our family extends our deep sorrow for the devastating loss of their beautiful baby boy. We are deeply honored and touched that Andy and Megan have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Micah Smiles Fund in honor of precious Rowan. We hope that Andy and Megan can find peace knowing they are giving back to other families in honor of Rowan.

The Micah Smiles Fund ensures all children at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital receive the healing sound of music during their hospitliazation. Donations in honor of Rowan can be made here.

Sweet dreams, sweet Rowan. You are deeply missed and forever loved, baby boy.

Micah Smiles benefit concert at The Ark to raise money for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

By Princess Gabbara

IMG_4535The Micah Smiles benefit concert will take place Wednesday, April 30th at The Ark (located at 316 S. Main in Ann Arbor).

Chamber folk duo Acoustic Eidolon will headline the concert with a 20-year-old Mott patient set to open the show with two original songs. One is titled, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Mott’s music therapist Bob Hoffman and Mott’s Micah Smiles therapy fellow Meredith Schlabig are also scheduled to perform.

Proceeds will support the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s music therapy program.

The Micah Smiles Benefit Concert is in memory of Micah Canvasser, who passed away just over a year ago from necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal disease that’s relatively common in premature infants, as well as End Stage Renal Disease, which causes permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.

Micah Smiles.jpg

Micah and his twin brother Zachary were born three months prematurely. While Zachary was able to go home after three months in the neonatal intensive care unit, Micah’s hospitalization continued. Micah was only 11 months old when he died.

“Honestly, the best way I’ve been able to cope and find peace is by giving back to others,” said Micah’s mother Jennifer Canvasser. “For us to be able to give back in this way is just incredible and beautiful. We’re so honored and blessed. There are really no words to describe it.”

Canvasser also said that she and her husband, Noah, integrate Zachary into the giving back process as a means of being positive examples of how to live effectively after experiencing a tragic loss.

“Zachary was always there even when Micah was in the hospital. He would sleep next to him,” she said. “The connection still lives on even though he’s no longer physically with us. He kisses Micah’s picture all the time and constantly asks about him. That’s another thing that helps me cope because I lost a son, but he lost his twin brother.”

“For us to be able to give back in this way is just incredible and beautiful. We’re so honored and blessed. There are really no words to describe it.”

Shortly after Micah’s death, the Canvassers started the “Micah Smiles Fund” in honor of their son’s memory by expanding the hospital’s music therapy program so that it could reach more children. To donate, please visit the Micah Smiles Fund’s official Facebook page.

In addition, they started the Micah and Zachary Giving Library, in which families with infants in Mott’s NICU receive one book each week to read to their children and to take home at the end of their stay. To date, the family has donated approximately 7,000 books.

Although this will be the first Micah Smiles benefit concert, the Canvassers hope to make it annual in hopes of spreading awareness about the positive effects of music therapy.

“Until you experience it first hand, you don’t realize how effective it is,” Canvasser said. “Music heals and brings calm when everything else in the world is spinning out of control.”

Tickets for the Micah Smiles Benefit Concert are $30-100 and can be purchased

Princess Gabbara is an entertainment intern for The Ann Arbor News. You can reach her at