Teens make difference at Pike Co. nursing home

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - On this gloomy day in Troy a ray of light, trickling in the form of a song. Lee and Alex Benton, brothers, 15 and 17 years old share their youthfulness and their gift of music with the folks in the twilight of their lives.

It's a soothing tonic for the soul for Mae Spurlock as the Benton brothers sing Amazing Grace.

"This makes my heart feel good," said Spurlock, a resident of two years at the Troy Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Mary Ellis feels the same way.

"It's wonderful," Ellis said.

The Benton boys say it all started at home when they started playing for their grandmother who was dying of liver cancer. It turns out their humming and strumming were in many ways more powerful than the medicines she was on.

"The medicines didn't help. We played for her and she picked up a lot," said Alex Benton.

Their grandmother eventually passed away but the music didn't. One idea led to another and now they come twice a month to the center.

"It's the same principle. These people have been her for awhile. They can't get out and move around. The music lifts them," said Alex.

It is here you'll find that age and time have taken their toll; gray hair, eyeglasses, a bit of unsteadiness. Still, crippled hands still have the power to express joy. We found one elderly woman quietly clapping in her wheelchair.  This is what the Benton brothers believe they're giving to people like Mary and Mae, a sense of happiness wrapped in music.

"You never who you will touch," Alex said.

What makes this story even more remarkable is the fact that Lee and Alex never touched a musical instrument until a year ago. Self-taught with some lessons along the way, Alex on the guitar and Lee on the mandolin, they have reached the point where their fingers just roll off the strings and roll they do as they harmonize an old Hank Williams tune 'I Saw The Light.'

Sharing that light of bluegrass gospel music at the Troy Health and Rehabilitation Center. So is Nashville in the cards? Well, that's not something they really talk about.

"I don't know.. where ever the road leads, I guess. We really sing for the Lord instead of trying to become famous," said Alex Benton.

But folks like Mary and Mae will tell you the Benton boys are already famous, an encore that never stops.

A little more on Lee and Alex. They're home-schooled down in Banks, work on a farm and play about 3 events a month.

Email Bryan Henry at bhenry@wsfa.com if you know of something who is making a difference in their community.

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