People with disabilities have always had a special place in the heart of pop superstar Avril Lavigne.
In fact, her charity initiative The Avril Lavigne Foundation was established in 2010 to help people with disabilities, serious illnesses and Lyme disease cope with their condition by providing funding, education and grants.
Just some of the beneficiaries of the foundation are Make-A-Wish, UNICEF, Toronto Sick Kids, Global Lyme Alliance and Special Olympics.
Speaking of the latter, her 2015 song ‘Fly’ served as the theme song for Special Olympics World Summer Games that year held in Los Angeles, California, USA.
During the shoot for the song’s video, four participating athletes – part of the 30 special needs athletes Avril sponsored for the tournament – visited the singer-songwriter in Toronto.
“I just feel like I have a connection with them every time I spend time with them. It really touches my heart and they’re all very sweet,” she told samaritanmag.com.
“At the video shoot I met four athletes that I’m sending to the games. And they’re all so pure and so sweet and very inspiring and they don’t let their situation get them down.”
She elaborated more about the song: “I actually wrote it a while ago and I wanted all the proceeds to go to the [Special Olympics] foundation for the cause. I already had it. But tailoring it was really special — it just made sense because it’s all about rising up and reaching up and finding inner strength. So it was the perfect fit for the foundation.”
Avril – whose hit songs include ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8er Boi’, ‘I’m With You’ and ‘Nobody’s Home’ – said she draws inspiration from people who don’t let their disabilities limit their potential.
“There are a lot of people that have different struggles in life in all places. And that’s why for me, on my last tour, I started doing more work over in other countries,” she confided.
“All these Special Olympics athletes that came to all my different shows in all the different countries, and having the courage to achieve your dreams, that’s universal.”
That admiration for people of determination only grew stronger when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014.
The illness, which is an infectious bacterial disease, debilitated Avril so much that she almost died at one point – an experience that inspired the lyrics of her 2018 song, ‘Head Above Water’ and the concept behind her latest record of the same name.
“I fought Lyme disease on antibiotics and herds for two years. I tried to have a life, but was in bed the majority of the time, and it was very up and down with good days and bad days,” she wrote in her website.
She added: “I went through a lot to get her. The positive side is I didn’t stop living my life. I had a goal to work towards and a purpose. I hope this album touches people.
“We all go through challenges in life. Some unfortunately are more serious than others. Having gone through the battle of my lifetime, I’m stronger than ever and looking forward to sharing my renewed voice and energy for my life with my fans through this new music.”
And fans here in the UAE and abroad will get to see and hear Avril as she sets to grace the opening ceremony of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 on 14th March at Zayed Sports City Stadium.
“I am so excited to come to Abu Dhabi! I have been working with the Special Olympics for a number of years and this will truly be an incredible experience performing at the largest and most unified Special Olympics World Games ever held,” said Avril.
“These athletes are so inspiring and they are a huge part of what we believe in and support through The Avril Lavigne Foundation.
“I want to shine a light on their courage and determination and I am honoured to have been invited to help support them.”
Tickets to the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 opening ceremony are available on www.ticketmaster.ae for AED 100.
For more information, visit www.abudhabi2019.org