A magical gift: Train’s Pat Monahan surprises special singers | Sammamish Heroes

Danna Kinzer surprises special needs choir with special guest.

The Kinzers have been an amazing family that has touched the lives of our Sammamish community in many ways.

On Halloween night, I visited for a few hours with Danna, and I told her of a group of special needs people I teach a choir to. I told her of some of the experiences I have had with them, and she could just feel the love and joy of being near these angels who walk in our midst.

In true Danna fashion, she wanted to do something special for them. At first, she wanted to have a fundraiser for them, but I said, they are very good people, and although money is always welcome in anyone’s life, we began to explore ideas that would make a lasting impression on their memories. She decided she wanted to feature them at her massive Christmas and hayride party she had hosted for years. She said this would be perfect because this year marked 20 years since inception of this idea and it had grown to a couple hundred people in attendance, and she wanted the special needs choir to have the stage at this event.

These performers were so excited to be singing familiar songs they know and love. They were practicing two holiday songs, and wanted to cap it off with their finale, which has become a favorite: “Play That Song” by Train.

Danna Kinzer had a great idea. She was close friends with the writer and singer of the song, and wanted to be sure he was OK with the song choice. He was very kind and said that he was planning to attend the event. He also added, “If you think it would work, I would be happy to come join in to sing along with them.”

She was overjoyed and gave me a call. Of course, we were very excited about the prospect of this surprise taking place. We worked really hard to keep the details under wraps as we figured how we could orchestrate this to surprise not only the audience but also the singers.

The evening came and all the special singers arrived early. They were very happy, a little nervous, and ready with Santa hats and red attire to make a bright, cheery impression on the audience. We got warmed up in our room, went through all the props and reviewed where they would stand.

The group made their entrance and stood up to sing. There was a lot of anticipation in the air as they started singing. They were having a great time!

“Join in with us!” One of them shouted and they immediately relaxed and performed with smiles wider than an ocean. Two songs down, and the third one started.

“Play that song …,” they belted out the chorus, jumped right into the rap portion and let the audience know how much fun they were having. They know every word; they sang with confidence.

Then, it happened.

The writer and singer, Pat Monahan, walked in the room with a microphone and started singing with them. I wish you could have seen the look on their faces! Some were shaking with excitement. We had watched the video a few times, and they were very well aware of who their hero was. He walked in totally unannounced, and suddenly they were on stage with a Super Bowl performer!

They might as well have been at Century Link Field, performing in front of 50,000 screaming fans. They were on stage with a star. The audience was in tears. Danna was overjoyed, and the magic of Christmas was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

After they got a few pictures with Pat, they went in the other room to have some hot chocolate. One girl was crying. The rest came over to her and said, “Megan, why are you crying? They loved us!”

She replied, “I am just so happy! This is the best Christmas ever!”

Others said, “Did you see me? I got to shake his hand.”

Another excited performer said that they will never forget this moment in their whole lives.

Every now and again there are sweet memories that words cannot give justice to. Taking time out for some sweet people in this world was a gift this past holiday season, and this evening was magic.

Amy McOmber is a 23-year resident of Sammamish.