LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — We’re in the final stretch of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. In Central Texas, the debilitating disease isn’t holding back 71-year-old Felix Pompa.
The Austin-based musician is giving the gift of music to those in hospice care with terminal illnesses.
“I’ve been playing guitar all my life,” Pompa said. “Played in big bands, small bands and I’ve played with a lot of people.”
Back in the 1970s, the U.S. Army veteran avoided being deployed to the Vietnam War because his musical talent helped him a gig in the military, as a chaplain’s assistant.
“I was very lucky with my music,” Pompa said. “It got me through it.”
Nowadays, he’s volunteering his time serenading seniors.
“The most rewarding thing that I have done is volunteered my music and time to the people that need it most,” he said.
Pompa volunteers with Blue Water Homecare and Hospice. The Leander-based business provides a wide variety of services for folks with less than six months left to live.
Jennifer Prescott is Blue Water’s founder and recently started working with Pompa.
“This was an opportunity for Felix to help people at the end of their life and support them.”
Playing the guitar with Parkinson’s isn’t easy. Not only do his musical performances spread joy, but they also help delay the progression of his debilitating disease.
“He’s exercising his fingers, mind and body,” Prescott said. “He also feels really engaged with the community.”
“My music helps me a lot,” Pompa added. “Helped me memorize songs, as I know about 200-300 songs.”
Changing the narrative of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Pompa is trying to inspire everyone through the magic of music.
“People typically tend to live 10-20ish years with Parkinson’s,” Prescott concluded. “So, it’s all about making the time that they’re here relevant.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Blue Water Homecare and Hospice, you can click here.
If you or a loved one is living with Parkinson’s, Capital Area Parkinson’s Society provides free social services to assist with the ongoing demands of the disease.