Kayla met Lamar Woody back in 2017 at the music store where he taught voice and piano lessons. As her very first vocal coach, Lamar will always have a special place in her heart. He not only taught her how to sing and use her voice, but he also taught her about ALS.
Kayla has fond memories of her weekly vocal lessons. She would arrive for class and says she never really knew what to expect, every lesson was different. Sometimes there would be another student there to sing with her or play another instrument while Lamar played piano. “It was just a musical family. I didn’t play any instruments obviously, but I used my voice and so people would come in and use their instruments and we would all just be like a big family band, and it was fun,” she recalls.
As Lamar’s ALS progressed and he required more assistance with mobility, he was forced to leave his position at the music store. With his wife Kristina going back to work full-time as a travel nurse, the Woody family needed an extra hand around the house to help out with their daughter, Natalie, and Kayla jumped on the opportunity.
Each morning, Kayla arrives at the Woody’s home to help get Natalie up and ready for school. Kayla says Natalie has so much personality and she enjoys being a part of her childhood and watching her grow into her own little person. “It’s just beautiful to see the challenges that she goes through, her happy moments and her sad ones. She’s like having a little sister,” she said.
“I can tell when she senses Lamar has had a rough night, it’ll be kind of tough on her in the morning at times,” said Kayla. “And so we’ll talk about that. I’ll get her to laugh and then we’ll just go on our way, getting her dressed, feeding her breakfast and occasionally watching one of her favorite shows if we have time before I take her to school.”
In the afternoons, she does it all over again. Kayla picks up Natalie from school and takes her home. “We’ll just talk, I get her a snack and help her with homework,” she said. Lately, she’s been helping Natalie learn to ride her bike without training wheels. “We’ve definitely had our moments with falling, throwing the bike down and being frustrated. But she’s just like her dad, she never gives up, and now she can ride her bike.”
While Kayla doesn’t think the help she provides is any big deal, Kristina strongly disagrees and makes sure Kayla understands just how important she is to their family. She tells Kayla that “things that you think are little, they’re not. They’re huge.” With Kristina’s busy schedule, she’s not able to spend as much time with Natalie as she’d like. “I came home in a week to Natalie knowing how to ride her bike, and we had been trying to carve out time and patience for that for three months during the summer. And Kayla, just from you picking her up every week and giving her quality time, Natalie knows how to ride a bike. That’s huge.”
Kayla says working with the Woody’s every day isn’t really work. “We laugh a lot, that’s why I love coming over here,” she said. “Lamar just keeps pushing and I’ve learned so much about this family, and so much about myself. I’ve learned that they just persevere, and they just keep going. And that’s a really big inspiration and I’m honored to be a part of it. I don’t know where I’d be today without him and this special family in my life.”
She tells everyone Lamar was the one who helped her find her voice, and she hopes more people will get involved in the fight against this disease before ALS takes his.
Special thanks to Kayla Turochy for allowing us to share her story with the ALS community. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to share more about the Woody family and their everyday life living with this disease, and we hope you will follow along and share with your family and friends.