August 14, 2022


Health for a better future

‘Music is my medicine’: Beloved Norfolk music teacher fighting illness to keep working

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A beloved Norfolk teacher is on a quest to keep on working even with debilitating pain.

Ryan Featherer is a music teacher at Maury High School and has been battling multiple sclerosis for several years.

“Music is my medicine. If I didn’t have it, I don’t even want to know where I’d be right now,” said Featherer. “For that moment in time I’m not thinking about how I can’t stand, or it hurts so bad. I can’t move. I’m doing what I need to do. What I love to do.”

In 2021, he credits an EVMS intern for the week-long trial with a spinal cord stimulator to help ease the pain.

“My kids had their father back, my students had their teacher back, my parents had their son back. My brothers had their brother back!”

Originally, his insurance denied the procedure. Then his students started writing letters pleading for a review.

The letters described Featherer as a “wonderfully caring and kindhearted man, and is an absolutely adorable man and spectacular teacher.”

“Mr. Featherer gives his all to his students, job and family. He has shaped my development in ways that I cannot attribute to anyone else, and I can say the same for the rest of my peers. He is supportive, courageous, and absolutely selfless, amidst the incredible pain he bears every day.”

Lisa Suhey, a parent of one of Featherer’s students, then stepped in to start a GoFundMe. She tells 10 On Your Side Featherer made a huge impact on her child’s life.

“My son Avery is at Old Dominion University student as a 1st chair playing cello with a career in music because of this man,” she said.

Lisa even contacted actor Alec Baldwin’s reps to share his story.

“I explained Mr. Featherer is like our George Bailey from ‘It’s a wonderful life’, and we needed to deliver Christmas in July!”

Then donations skyrocketed.

“Literally overnight with one Instagram post.”

Now his insurance will cover some of the procedures and after he recovers fully from COVID-19, he will be prepping for the surgery on July 27.

“It’s nice to know that there are great people in the world. Many of them are my students!”

The goal is to raise $50,000 for medical fees, medicine, and long-term care.

If you’d like to donate to the GoFundMe, CLICK HERE.