Alberta teen sings with OneRepublic in front of arena crowd
Brendan Prince, 17, sang 'I Lived' with OneRepublic at Rogers Place Friday night
It's been almost a year since Brendan Prince was paralyzed on one side of his body after surgeons removed a golf-ball-sized piece of his brain.
He's come a long way since.
On Friday, Brendan, 17, found himself on stage with pop band OneRepublic, singing a duet with the band's lead singer in front of thousands of fans at Rogers Place.
"It's a bit of a blur to me still, to be honest," Brendan said Saturday, still floating on the emotional high he experienced with a band he's loved since 2010.
The experience was made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brendan's dad, Jeffrey Prince, said he was initially hesitant to apply for the program on behalf of Brendan, who has epilepsy.
Jeffrey said Brendan has to deal with seizures every day. He's unable to get a driver's licence and has undergone four procedures in the past two-and-a-half years, including brain surgery last September.
Now, Jeffrey said he's happy he applied for the wish — a unique experience he and his family won't forget. Brendan, his parents and his two younger siblings were treated to a new outfit, haircuts, dinner and a limousine, courtesy of Make-A-Wish.
"It was surreal. It was being treated in a way that you feel like only rock stars or the Edmonton Oilers or celebrities get treated," Jeffrey said. "We felt special."
But the day of perks was only build-up to the performance that night.
The Prince family arrived at Rogers Place in the limousine Friday night and were guided backstage to hang out with the band for a little while before the show. The band fitted Brendan for his earpiece and showed him a previous performance of the song they were going to sing together.
Then, he and the family took their seats in the fourth row for the night.
Midway through OneRepublic's show, the band's security led Brendan and his parents backstage. Brendan was about to hit the stage with one of his favourite bands in front of thousands of people.
He was set to perform the OneRepublic song "I Lived," which Brendan also performed in talent shows and at his Grade 9 farewell a few years ago.
He selected the tune because of how much he likens the song to his life. "I just relate to it on such a personal level because of all the surgeries I've been through," he said.
"I lived. I did it all."
Brendan may have a performance background, but hadn't performed in front of a crowd of thousands before. Right before he hit the stage, however, he felt a familiar feeling.
"I didn't feel that much different from when I perform musicals," he said. He stepped onto the stage and into the spotlight.
'I got a bit weepy'
For Jeffrey, who watched with his wife side-stage, seeing his son perform with OneRepublic was unbelievable.
"To be able to see him on stage with someone who he literally idolizes, and to see that person put his arm around him and sing with him… it was almost more than we could bear," Jeffrey said.
After his performance, Brendan walked off stage toward his parents. He held it together for the entire song, but as soon as he left the stage, his emotions overcame him.
"Even before I was down the stairs and I saw my mom wiping her eyes and I got a bit weepy," he said.
The Prince family then returned to their seats for the rest of the show.
After the show, other people were coming up to Brendan and asking for photos with him. Then, they were approached by three more recognizable men: Edmonton Oilers players Cam Talbot, Mark Letestu and Matt Benning.
Jeffrey said he told them his son was on-stage, and after recognizing him, they asked for a photo.
Brendan said while taking the photo, he was shaking — Talbot told him he didn't have to be nervous.
"Well, I'm next to the Oilers goalies and Mark Letestu," Brendan replied. "I can't help it."
Both Brendan and his family are very thankful for all the businesses and other parties who came together for the experience of his lifetime.
"I've come from being paralyzed on the left side to performing on stage at Rogers Place," Brendan said. "This is going to stick with me forever."