Danny Lamb: A Man of Many Hats
by Mary Dufton
Danny Lamb wears many hats. He is a musician, music teacher and Ambassador for Hydrocephalus Canada. More recently, Danny created a podcast, called the PUSH project (People United for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus). This is a platform where those of us with these disabilities can share our stories with Danny through social media. Although he was a passionate soccer player in his youth, his hydrocephalus and the associated surgeries made him rethink his career direction and he put his energies into music.
Thirty-four-year-old Danny who has spina bifida occulta and hydrocephalus was born in St. Catharines, Ontario and currently lives in Niagara-on-the lake, with his partner, Andrea. They have been a couple for four years and met through their love of music. “Andrea is an incredible ally and is very supportive of my advocacy work.”
Like many of us with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, school had its challenges for Danny. I repeated grade four and was diagnosed with a learning disability. “I don’t know the exact name of it, but it makes understanding theories or formulas very difficult for me.”
At the end of the summer, Danny and his family moved to St. Davids (a neighbourhood in Niagara- on- the- Lake), so Danny had a fresh start at a new school. “I think it would have been much harder for me to deal with repeating grade four if I had been at my old school. I did much better academically and accessed the available learning resources. Except for a scar on his head from his shunt revisions, his disability isn’t that visible. “I keep my hair cut short and wear hats!
“As an adult my fine motor skills are not great. When I put pen/pencil to paper, it still looks like I’m writing with my wrong hand. I also must pay close attention to my surroundings when I am driving.”
Danny became involved in music when he was 12 years old through his church. The organist encouraged him to take voice lessons at her home. “I was hesitant and first, but now am glad that I did. I auditioned with the Niagara Symphony orchestra and got a part to sing soprano in the Lord of the Rings. I realized the power of music. I felt the energy of the violins and cellos in that moment.”
Danny also excelled in sports in his youth and had a love of soccer, like his father. He had hoped to make a career of it, but after two shunt revisions when he was fourteen, he realized that he needed to revisit his future goals. “Music found me at a time when I needed it most. I had my second shunt revision, and it was recommended that I step back from playing the sport that I loved. My dad played semi-professional soccer in Canada and my brothers, and I are very athletic. Although I still loved soccer more than music, I realized that it was a better and much safer career option for me.”
While in high school, around the age of 15, Danny met a couple of Rotary Exchange students who were also studying at Danny’s school. They encouraged him to apply for the program and he was accepted to be a rotary exchange student in Recife, Brazil. “I then recognized the power of music to shape people’s lives, their communities and the world. I discovered my own voice, redefined my passion and became super excited about my musical abilities to create a positive impact.”
Danny has been involved with Hydrocephalus Canada since receiving the Dr. E. Bruce Hendrick scholarship when he was 18. He used the scholarship to study music at Brock University. That was the first time he had met others like him who shared his disabilities. ‘In that meeting, I started to write a song called, the Simple Things and weeks later, I reached out to the staff and offered the song to them to use in whatever way they wanted to.” The relationship started then and has continued to evolve ever since. Today, Danny is the Ambassador for Hydrocephalus Canada which involves attending community events and raising awareness.
Danny is thankful for the support of his parents and family. Whenever he has a problem, he knows he can reach out to them for help. “One of the greatest things I have learned and continue to practice when I feel I am stuck or struggling with something is to take a step back, be patient and open myself up to a new perspective. Some of my biggest questions have been answered and clarity has been achieved when I step away from the issue and seek a greater perspective. It never ceases to amaze me what I discover about myself and where I am headed. When I do this, it’s wild how this perspective can show me something I couldn’t see because I was focused on the problem. I would also encourage anyone who is struggling to lean on your friends, family and community, the people who want to see you thrive and be the best version of who you are meant to be.”
Note: For more information on the PUSH Project Podcast – A Song a City visit: https://www.asongacity.com