Wednesday, December 18, 2002
By Sabrina Glidden
Sharon Alberts, a long-time fan of Kenny Rogers, waited 10 years for the chance to see the legendary performer face to face again.
On Friday night, Alberts not only attended his concert at Emens Auditorium, but she spent about 10 minutes with him backstage. It was the first time she had left her home - with the exception of her daughter's wedding - since the last time she saw Rogers.
Multiple Sclerosis prevents Alberts, 50, from moving her body below her neck. She typically moves others around her, however, with her steady cheerfulness and positive attitude.
Before the concert, Alberts was escorted backstage to meet the man whom she now refers to simply as "Kenny." They sat together, him holding her arm, for about 10 minutes.
"He thanked me for coming to see him, but I was in La-la land, and just enjoyed him being with me," Alberts said. "He was not formal, as I would have expected him to be. It was just like we've known each other all our lives."
Her inspiring disposition has drawn the folks at The Waters of Yorktown, the long-term health-care facility where she lives, to rally around her in support of her undying interest in Rogers. The staff worked several weeks to arrange transportation, nursing care, tickets and a backstage meeting with Rogers, a man Alberts says is "perfect."
In 1992, she met Rogers at a concert. That night, she wore a purple top and black pants. Looking at his purple jacket, she told him that they matched. He replied that he knew he had worn purple for a reason.
In the past few weeks, Alberts was unaware of the scurrying going on behind the scenes. To start arrangements, activities director Sally Anderson contacted Never Too Late, a non-profit organization, to see whether it could help with the expenses.
The director, Bob Haverstick, didn't hesitate to help. While on the telephone, he wrote the check to cover the tickets and nursing care.
"We try to make wishes come true for folks in long-term health care," Haverstick said. "It makes you feel almost as good as they do, to be helping out."
Comfort Care discounted its van service, which includes a lift, to transport Alberts to the concert.
Rogers had agreed to a backstage meeting with Alberts and her nurse, asking only that media not be present. He said he didn't want to promote himself in the meeting, only to meet with Alberts.
Administrator Diane Harrold accompanied Anderson when she told Alberts about her opportunity for another meeting with Rogers.
"Her face was exuberant!" Harrold said. "I stood at her bedside and wept as I witnessed her face lit ear to ear with that lovely smile."
On the day of the concert, Alberts's hair was styled, and she was primped in her new outfit, bought by her mother, Wanda Thacker.
"This is a highlight in her life," Thacker said.
Copyright 2002 The Star Press