For a parent, there is no better gift than seeing their children happy, healthy, and fulfilled. To help make that happen, many parents will often make huge sacrifices with their time, money, and energy.
As a baby, heavy metal music was the only thing that could soothe a Minnesota boy with severe Cerebral Palsy. As an adult, that love for music has only grown stronger as he and his dad traveled the country seeing their favorite bands. Yet when he became too weak to go to shows, his dad went above and beyond to bring the music to him…
While awaiting the arrival of their first son, a couple from Maple Grove, Minnesota couldn’t wait until the moment they could hold their baby boy for the first time. However, when Mason McDeid was born, he was extremely sick and was placed in an incubator in the NICU.
Doctors told the couple that their baby boy had been born with a severe form of Cerebral Palsy and explained that the neurological condition would later affect his speech and mobility. The news was a lot to take in at the time, but dad Richard McDeid knew they’d overcome whatever challenge came their way.
One Month Later
“When he was born, we did what they called kangaroo care,” McDeid told My Good Planet. “Mason would get out of the incubator and lay on my chest for several minutes. I’ll never forget the first time we did this, as I’d waited almost a month to hold him.”
Eventually, Mason was released from the hospital and was finally allowed to go home. Unfortunately, bringing Mason home full-time wasn’t as easy as the couple hoped. Because of his condition, Mason experienced a lot of discomfort as a baby and toddler.
As a result of the discomfort, Mason cried constantly. Not only was it difficult for his parents to see him struggling and not be able to help, but the nonstop crying was a lot to handle and they often tried absolutely everything to get him to calm down.
A Last Resort
“From when Mason was a baby, right up to a toddler, all he did was cry,” McDeid said. “One day, I arrived in from work and his mom took some time out. He would simply not stop, so I put him in his chair and turned on the Metallica ‘Binge and Purge‘ VHS tape.”
Saved By Heavy Metal
“A few minutes later I was washing the dishes and noticed he’d stopped crying. I checked on him and he’d fallen asleep,” McDeid said. “This was the very first time he’d done that without someone holding him. Afterward, it started happening in the car whenever Metallica was on.”
A Music Lover
“He would calm down and relax. At first, it was only Metallica and then grew to other bands as he learned to recognize them, he instantly responded and it grew from there,” McDeid said about the moment he realized Mason loved heavy metal music.
Sadly, that’s not the only hurdle Mason has had to overcome as he’s grown up. “In the past 23 years I have helped him through, and nursed him back from, 132 surgeries and many more near-death illnesses,” the 51-year-old father explained. “It has always (been this way) since he was 4 or 5 years old. I’m a single dad, raising him and his little sister, who is off at college now.”
However, Mason, who is nonverbal, and McDeid have never let Cerebral Palsy stop them from making the most of life and having as much fun together as possible. “We don’t let that stop us. It doesn’t mean we can’t do things,” McDeid said in a statement reported by the Star Tribune.
A Source Of Happiness
“It just means that we do them differently,” McDeid said. For Mason and McDeid, music has been a constant source of happiness in their lives ever since the moment Mason first heard heavy metal music. “We’re definitely rock guys,” he added.
When Mason got older, McDeid started bringing him to concerts since it seemed to make him happy. “It’s hard to really know what Mr. Mason thinks as he is non-verbal, but if I ask him if he wants to go and see music he smiles,” McDeid told the Shropshire Star.
In their first year of going to concerts together, the pair saw a couple of hundred bands perform. “We saw 450 bands in a single year, but stopped counting when we reached a total of 1,060,” McDeid said. “Since that point, we’ve probably seen another 200.”
Worth The Struggle
“It has always been more about us boys having fun than anything but, in theory, he has seen over 1,200 bands in his lifetime,” the 51-year-old added. However, traveling to the concerts and navigating venues that aren’t wheelchair friendly has been a never-ending struggle.
“Mason has several ongoing challenges; he is tube feed and sleeps with a food pump, which nourishes him during the night. Our biggest concern is always pressure sores. A simple road trip could mean a life and death situation for Mason, so we make sure he is continuously repositioned and moved to prevent such sores,” McDeid explained.
“The fact that Mason is wheelchair bound is challenging at times; it once took us four hours to get into a stadium in Chicago. We ended up finding a back door that led through the bands’ dressing rooms to the main floor. It always works out okay, and us boys have learned to be patient and let things happen as they do,” McDeid explained. On several occasions, crowds of tens of thousands of people have literally parted down the middle to let Mason up near the stage so he could see better.
A Bleak Situation
According to the single dad, Mason never looks happier than when he is at a concert among the rest of the crowds. However, they were forced to take a break from going to concerts when Mason got sick and was hospitalized. “Things were pretty bleak, as his temperature reached 107.9. Mason is a fighter and a true champion,” McDeid said.
After being released from the hospital, Mason was still weak so they couldn’t celebrate his birthday the way they planned to. Instead, McDeid started working on hosting a mini-festival in March 2018, which also happened to be National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Not only would it help Mason have some fun after being so sick, but it would help raise awareness for people with similar conditions.
A Turning Point
“Mason was still not 110%, but we had 10 bands playing and so many of Mason’s friends and supporters from the metal scene came out. All those people were nothing but positive, and it was a turning point in his path to recovery,” McDeid explained.
Mason Metalfest II
Since then, McDeid started a company called The Best Seat in The House so Mason can work as a music correspondent and promoter. The idea came after a photographer once told the pair that they always get to go places at venues that most never can. McDeid also has plans to host another mini-festival in 2019. This time, McDeid is hoping that the Mason Metalfest II will be even bigger and better and that they will continue to bond over their love of music for as long as possible. “I hope there’s another 1,000 shows in his future.”