PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It was a crisp December morning in 2015–the day before Christmas Eve–when Lauren Hendon and her dad Frank decided to go for a run around their neighborhood.
Full disclosure: I went to school with Lauren, starting in middle school, and we are dear friends. Lauren is an incredibly unique personality, and lights up each room with her humor, joy and random outbursts of jubilant song. Lauren was a year ahead of me in school, so when I was a senior at PHS, she packed her bags and followed her dreams of musical theatre to Los, Angeles where she attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy on scholarship, graduating a full year ahead of time. She then moved to New York City to pursue her passion.
It’s well-known that long distance relationships are difficult, and long-distance friendships are no walk in the park. Different timezones and thousands of miles left us texting intermittently, but I always knew Lauren would be there for me if I needed her, with a song or caring word to cheer me up. So when I was planning my wedding to my now-husband, I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle with my dad to a vocalist, certainly none other than the astoundingly amazing voice of Lauren. It was a few days before this terrifying moment in her life happened that I asked her to sing at my March wedding in Savannah.
Lauren and her dad were headed back home on their run when she felt him grasp at her elbow. She turned to see him falling face first onto the concrete, unconscious.
“Screaming over his body, his gasps for life, the call to my mother, and prayers aloud in the ambulance,” Lauren recalled. Frank coded four times that day after his heart attack, but he fought through and not only survived, but thrived. There were questions of how he would be able to function mentally after coding that many times.
The day after Christmas, my mom and I headed over to the hospital to see the Hendons. Lauren and her two sisters hadn’t left his side since they arrived. I hardly recognized her. My joyful and exuberant friend was pale, eyes red rimmed, and down right scared, gripping a mug of coffee and trying to keep it together. All the while, her dad laid in his hospital bed, cracking jokes while struggling to remember what had happened to him over the past few days.
“There is something that changes as you hold your father without a heartbeat in your arms,” Lauren said, nearly a year after thinking her father had surely died. She described the incident as life altering–a slap in the face to fully dive in and pursue her dream of recording an album to help others overcome incredible pain.
‘I could not live in fear of failure anymore,” she explained. “His heart attack, running his corporation, and bringing him back to health, by God and the help of many others, did not defeat me. I realized I couldn’t settle anymore. Music is my passion, and way of giving back.”
So, she started a Kickstarter project to help fund her dream: a five song EP recorded without a label or agent, with hopes of giving back to the community that supports her passion. The catch? With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing, and there’s a ways to go in just 13 days. True to her personality, the Kickstarter rewards for a pledge range from a meme to snail mail to your own personal recording of a holiday hit, love song or rap, or a canvas painting.