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Local musician brings hope through song

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a series of stories leading up to the Relay for Life of South Washington County, which will be held June 4-5 at East Ridge High School.

Local musician Matthew Griswold was scheduled to perform at last year's Woodbury Relay for Life, but at the last minute the U.S. Army soldier was recalled to duty.

"I felt really bad about that," he said.

Although Griswold returned from his recall much sooner than he anticipated, he didn't make it back in time for last year's event.

"I got back the day after the Relay, so I just missed it," he said. "I was hoping to show up anyway and surprise them."

The Woodbury resident and budding musician is getting a second chance, as he will be performing at the June 4-5 Relay for Life of South Washington County.

In addition to lending his musical talents to entertain throughout the night for Relay participants, Griswold will also perform an original song he wrote for survivors participating in the event. The song's title is "With Healing Hands (Upon Your Heart)." It is available as a free download on the Relay for Life website, and it has already been downloaded 500 times since its release May 10.

"After meeting with so many survivors last year, and then again this year, I really felt that I wanted to write a song that kind of talked about a lot of the different stuff they go through and how optimistic they can be toward something so hard," Griswold said. "Even though it's something potentially deadly, people sustain so much life -- there's a certain amount of healing that is beyond medicine.

"I didn't want the song to be about the sadness, I wanted it to be about overcoming the challenges and reminding the listeners that we are capable of that."

Griswold wrote the song in just a few days, but said it holds special meaning for him as well.

"The song came to me really quickly, some songs just do that, they jump out at you real quickly," he said. "Observing something so powerful, the message gets across real quickly."

Griswold's grandfather died of cancer several years ago. In fact, he died the day of the Relay for Life event.

The day of his grandfather's death, Griswold and his family were at church when they saw the Relay for Life selling luminaria bags. They bought one in his honor.

Because of his commitment to the military, Griswold has been unable to attend previous Relay for Life events, but said he's excited to not only entertain with his musical talents. He will also be participating as a member of one of the dozens of Relay for Life fundraising teams at the event.

"It's such a powerful way to rally for such an important cause," he said.

"Outside of the emotional power, it's knowing that the money is going toward helping others that makes Relay so powerful."

In addition to Relay for Life, Matthew Griswold will host, and perform at, a Memorial Day "Veteran's Aid Concert 2010" Monday, May 31 at The Fine Line Music Café, Minneapolis.

All proceeds will benefit the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, a 501(c)3 non profit organization.

Questions may be directed to Griswold at

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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