twin cities dystonia zoo walk

Hey Team-BillyMac!!!!

Pretty much all of you know about my battle with dystonia that stretches over a decade. I have not said much or asked you to support the search for a cure even though some of you have done so on your own over these many years. Thank you!
Now, I’m asking for your help – and it’s not just limited to Minneapolis/St. Paul! Please read further:

The first annual Twin Cities Dystonia Zoo Walk will be held Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at the Como Zoo, with all proceeds benefiting the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

The Twin Cities is one of 12 locations across the U.S. that will host a Zoo Walk in 2016. Last year, Zoo Walks in 8 cities drew over 4,000 participants.
This will be a family-friendly community day at the Como Zoo to raise awareness about dystonia. If you are not in the Twin Cities you can find a list of host cities for 2016 at the “more information” link below.
This DMRF Zoo-Walk is a twist on typical walks – participants are invited to walk as much for as long as little as they would like. No mileage goals or raising of pledge money is needed to participate in the Walk. It’s really just a day at Como Zoo that helps raise awareness for my condition.
Thank you very much for your support of this event and cause!!



Join My Walk Team!

If you are interested in participating in the Walk, please join my team by inputting “Team BillyMac” in the Team Name window on the registration page. I’d love to have you on my team!!! You’ll get a custom t-shirt with “Team BillyMac” on the back and I’ll have my Sharpie on hand to sign yours if you want! This is a Twin Cities-only team so if you are registering in another city please just complete a general registration or start your own team.

Fees: $25 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under
Includes: Access to the zoo, refreshments and a t-shirt
Click here to register
A t-shirt is included in the cost. Selecting a shirt size generates the registration entry fee. We will have your t-shirt waiting for you at the Zoo the day of the walk. Please note that shipping info in registration is part of the billing process but nothing will be shipped to you – just come that morning and we’ll have everything you need including t-shirts, bottled water, energy bars etc.

Event Timeline

8:00 – 9:30 – Gather at the picnic grounds for: check-in and same day registration, t-shirt pick-up, gather with team members, face painting for children, sponsor tables
9:30 – 10:00 – Welcome: speakers from the medical community and the DMRF
10:00 on – Walk the zoo! Simply by being there you will help spread the word about Dystonia!

Can’t Attend but Want to Support?

Donations can be made here and will be matched 100% by an anonymous donor.
On the registration page, select “Donate” on the right side of the page and then “Donate to a dystance event” in the following screen. From there you can enter the event name “Twin Cities Zoo Walk.”

Additional Information

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

General Electric's Txchnologist blog

Txchnologist sponsored by GE


General Electric’s Txchnologist blog – Slaying the Silence: One Musician’s Journey to Play Again by Michael Keller

Last week, Billy was featured in Txchnologist, “an online magazine created in partnership with General Electric.”
“After suffering a debilitating condition called focal dystonia that took away control of one of his hands, accomplished professional guitarist Billy McLaughlin was told he’d never play music again. That diagnosis wasn’t the end of his career, though; it was the starting point that led McLaughlin to eventually reprogram his brain and body to play with the opposite hand. Stepping on the stage after a long hiatus, his success is a testament to determination and to the flexibility of the brain to find novel ways to work around major problems, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity…”  …continue reading
Full featured article on

Interview with ABILITY Magazine

ABILITY Magazine

“At a recent live streaming concert sponsored by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) at San Diego State University, McLaughlin’s unorthodox technique of placing both hands on the fretboard produced a unique and surprisingly big sound, as if there were multiple guitarists on stage. His music was deeply rhythmic and fluid, his new age compositions intricate and uplifting. Recently, ABILITY’s Paula Fitzgerald spoke with him about his long journey back to center stage.
Paula Fitzgerald: Tell me about the accident that changed your life.
Billy McLaughlin: In 1998, I was on my way to a photo shoot for the cover of my second album for Narada Records when I fell on an icy sidewalk. I dislocated the middle finger and ring finger on the hand I used to play my fretboard. When we finished the shoot, I needed immediate physical therapy because I was leaving in just a couple of months to start a back-to-back, 50-city tour to support the release of my new CD. This tour included a lot of television and radio performances, as well as interviews. I managed to rehab in time so that I didn’t have to reschedule any of the dates, but I still noticed stiffness in my fingers that I associated with the injury.
After the second leg of the tour, the swelling had gone down and my fingers felt normal, but I started to feel something was out of balance. I was still struggling with a couple of my more virtuosic pieces. When you’re playing solo guitar concerts, it’s very embarrassing to have a slip-up here and there. After talking with colleagues and mentors, everyone said, “Gee, Billy, you’re the hardest-working guitar player out there. Take a break. Take a couple months off and let your hands rest.
Read this article in its entirety at ABILITY Magazine.

Streaming for Dystonia

On Friday, January 24, Billy gave a very special concert. It was the first time he had performed simultaneously to a live audience and an audience around the world. The concert, “Streaming for Dystonia,” was sponsored by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as part of a crusade to increase awareness of dystonia and to help raise funds for medical research. “Somebody in your circle of friends has dystonia,” said Billy at the concert. “It comes in so many forms, from someone suffering from writers’ cramp to someone whose neck muscles spasm so that they can’t straighten up to someone whose voice has become progressively hoarse.” These are all symptoms of dystonia, which makes it’s difficult to recognize,” he explained.
Billy considers himself fortunate to have found a way around his dystonia. He explained to the audience the way he now plays his guitar, with his left hand, and how he had to learn to fail his way to success. “As with dystonia, you can’t be afraid,” said Billy. For three years, Billy had suffered from the symptoms without it being properly diagnosed. During that time he lost his home, marriage, recording contracts and his music. “I’m here to help people find a way out of the trap that is dystonia,” said Billy. “I’m lucky because I can still do something I love to do.”
Billy is passionate about advancing the entire field of neurosciences. “The power of a chronic condition like dystonia, Parkinson’s or epilepsy to beat us down is really tremendous,” he said. Billy finds it an amazing coincidence that DMRF began its research into dystonia in 1976, the same year that he started playing guitar. “The worst thing that ever happened to me has unfolded to be the best thing that ever happened. To have this opportunity to play my music with meaning and purpose is truly a blessing. Thank you to all who turned out and tuned in to build awareness of dystonia!”
For more information about DMRF or to make a contribution, visit
Written by Linda Ruhland

ST Dystonia Publication
ST Dystonia Publication

ST Dystonia Presents

Spring 2012 – ST Dystonia Presents

Billy had the privilege of appearing in a ST Dystonia publication written by Stephen J Busalacchi. Busalacchi has complied “Inspiring success stories of people who BELIEVED they could overcome a baffling disorder called dystonia.” Billy was asked to share his story along with seven others. If you are interested in purchasing this book, or learning more about ST Dystonia, please visit their website.
More about ST:
Spasmodic Torticollis (ST), and/or cervical dystonia, is a neurological condition thought to originate in the basal ganglia portion of the brain. A disturbance in the balance of chemicals produced in the brain may be responsible. One of these chemicals known as Acetylcholine may be affected. The neurotransmitters or chemical messengers are secreted from the basal ganglia and travel through nerve pathways to certain muscles of the neck. The increased nerve signals cause spasms to occur which cause the head to be pulled pulled per the renderings to the left.  More here.

DMRF to host historic Musician's Summit

DMRF to host historic Musician's Summit

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

March 9 & 10, 2012, New York City –
This two day summit of international experts focused specifically on various focal dystonias that affect musicians is the first of it’s kind. The first day (3/9) will focus on the scientific side of this life-changing disorder with presentations by world-reknown researchers describing in scientific terms what the most current research has revealed. A concert that evening will feature:
– World acclaimed guitarist David Leisner who has battled and conquered focal dystonia of the right hand
– Nashville fiddler Ryan Thompson who switched hands to be able to continue his successful career
– Billy McLaughlin and string quartet featuring special guests Dr. Stephen Frucht and daughter Emma, as well as Steven Leung who continues to play violin despite the challenges of focal dystonia of the lefthand
Day two (3/10) will focus on the practical side of how musicians can recognize, adapt and identify possible effective therapies or beneficial changes to their playing techniques. The day will include panelists with both hand dystonia and embouchure dystonia. Interactive discussion time with both physicians, researchers and musicians through a Q & A format will prove to be lively indeed.
More information and details on presenters, topics, daily schedule and registration fees will be posted soon at: