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

parkway billy mclaughlin
Summer at the Parkway

The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis MN

Media Notice

Martin Keller / Media Savant Communications
612-729-8585 /


A Rare Summer Solstice Concert from a Group Known For Its Christmas Shows


MINNEAPOLIS — May 27, 2015 — Here’s a switch: SimpleGifits*, a group known for its lovely, harmonious vocals and strings only at Christmas is celebrating the Summer Solstice, two days early on June 19 at Pepito’s Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis at 8:00 p.m.
No Christmas music will be heard.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and available online at the SimpleGifts website Pepito’s Parkway Theater is located at 4814 Chicago Ave S/Minneapolis, MN., 55417/
What you will hear is original music by Billy McLaughlin who leads SimpleGifts, plus songs by The Civil War, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, some Celtic classics and other tunes by a superb line up musicians that includes: Billy McLaughlin, percussionist/drummer, Billy O, singers Ashleigh Still, Torie Redpath and Celtic star, Laura MacKenzie — plus special guest Melody Michelle Duncan, all the way from Mobile, Alabama, on violin and vocals.
“As longtime fans know, SimpleGifts has been hard to find in concert except during the short and dark days leading to Christmas. But this sunny solstice, we’re changing that, based on fan’s demand to hear SimpleGifts more than just during the holidays,” explains McLaughlin who put together the ensemble 13 years ago.
“Now we are finally giving everyone chance to hear us right near the official beginning of Summer, with a an wide variety of material ideally suited to the three-part female harmonies, plus the sounds of strings, piano, Celtic whistle and pipes. It’s going to be a treat for the ears on a nice summer’s eve.”
For more information — or to interview SimpleGifts or have them perform live in studio in advance of the June 19 date — please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-729-8585,
*About SimpleGifts
As long-time fans will tell you, SimpleGifts makes musical magic by bringing a modern flair to traditional Christmas carols and hymns. Staying close to the heart of Christmas by avoiding commercial and pop holiday repertoire has become the trademark of this award winning six-piece ensemble.
SimpleGifts combines violin, Celtic whistle and bagpipes, piano, acoustic guitar and percussion with angelic three part female vocals to create a “modern Old-World” sound. There is nothing ordinary about the arrangements this team delivers both in the studio and in concert. Seen by over 20,000 live audience members last season, this group continues to grow in popularity throughout the Upper Midwest and has successfully transitioned from their early days in coffeehouses and small listening rooms to prestigious performing art centers and larger churches.


Join the SimpleGifts Email List


simplegifts announces mid-year concerts
Minneapolis, MN —
simplegifts announces mid-year concerts


As longtime fans know, SimpleGifts has been hard to find in concert except the short and dark days during Christmas. Well, it’s time to change that!  SimpleGifts has THREE mid-year concerts coming up that we are happy to invite you to!

Come celebrate the longest days of summer with SimpleGifts, Billy McLaughlin and Laura MacKenzie at the Parkway Theater. Featuring Billy’s original music but don’t be surprised if a little Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, The Civil Wars and some awesome Celtic classics sneak in! We are excited to share the new summer sound of SimpleGifts!  Get ready for the new summer-sound of SimpleGifts!

Join us in Glenwood MN on March 27th at Central Square for a special night of SimpleGifts with Billy McLaughlin featuring Laura MacKenzie.  We will also be celebrating Summer-Solstice in Minneapolis on June 19th at The Parkway Theater.  All event details are below and we would love for you to help us spread the word!


Exciting news!  We just added another concert with Billy McLaughlin in Chanhassen MN on November 14th!  For continual updates keep checking the SimpleGifts website and/or join our mailing list by clicking the button below.


Join the SimpleGifts Email List


Join Billy at Andy Mckee's Musicarium

We are excited to share with you an incredible opportunity that takes place August 2015!  Billy will be participating in Andy Mckee’s Musicarium August 3rd-6th, 2015.  This is a unique fingerstyle guitar summit hosted by Andy in which Billy will be instructing along side other fingerstyle guitar legends such as Antoine Dufour and Stephen Bennett.  For more information, watch the video and visit Andy Mckee’s Musicarium website, Facebook event and/or Facebook page.
Keep your eyes peeled as we get closer to the date and send out more information!


Information about Andy Mckee’s Musicarium

Welcome to Andy McKee’s fingerstyle guitar summit.

You and a very select group of like minded folks are about to connect with some of the world’s best acoustic guitar players, one of the world’s cutting-edge guitar builders, and the world’s finest string maker over music, friendship, personal mentoring, food, fun, frivolity, and, of course, hands-on demonstrations of the state-of-the-art in acoustic guitar playing. This one of a kind experience all takes place at Full Moon Resort, the year-round mountain resort in the heart of the “Forever Wild” Catskill Forest Preserve.

More information here.

new keynote topics

Billy's New Keynote Topics

Billy’s New Keynote Topics

In the last few years, Billy has created and recreated several popular Keynotes. Ranging from his keynote “Adversity to Innovation”, to “Rethink Impossible”, Billy is excited to announce the creation of more new Keynote topics!
In addition to New Ways to Do It, Setback Before Success, and Making an Impact With All You’ve Got!, Billy now offers Keynote topics addressing Life After Diagnosis and Stop Listening to Experts.  Billy’s most popular Keynote presentations and their descriptions are available on Billy’s Keynote Topics page or by contacting Hannah Day.  Updates have also been made to Billy’s One Sheet.
new keynote topics

Click here to download your copy of Billy’s One Sheet

Billy’s most popular Keynote Topics:


New Ways to Do It:  The Road to Reinvention

Billy encourages you to step out of your spectator’s seat and recognize your ability to take an active role in designing the future that you have imagined.

Setback before Success:  Accepting the Challenge that comes with Change

Billy combines solid, actionable advice with exceptional music and an entertaining style for an unforgettable experience that will change your perspective on the challenges you and your organization face.

Doing More With Less – Making an impact with all that you’ve got!

By realizing what still works and what still matters, you can make a significant difference, regardless of the obstacles. Listen to Billy’s story; you, too, will choose to be a “difference-maker”!

Stop Listening to Experts!

Billy’s keynote talk with just the right amount music will help you become the confident expert you know that you are – and show others around you the new paths that must be taken for you and your organization to succeed. Who did Steve Jobs listen too?

Life After Diagnosis

Billy has created this program especially for business, foundations, healthcare professionals, Insurance professionals and individuals who have been affected by sudden, future-changing events. He takes them along with him on a personal journey from diagnosis to self-discovery, which led him to a new and more exciting phase of his business development and career building future.

More available upon request.

Fargo, North Dakota – May 2014.
Photos by TJ Jensen.

Florida – February 2014.
Photos by TJ Jensen.

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

Minnesota SHRM 2013 Conference
Minnesota SHRM 2013 Conference

Minnesota SHRM

Minnesota Society for Human Resource Management (MNSHRM) State Conference

On October 13, Billy McLaughlin kicked off the annual conference for the Minnesota Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The conference brought together human resource professionals and consultants for new ideas, shared thoughts and best practices in employee engagement, education and new ways at looking at HR problems. Following his kickoff speech, Billy, accompanied by his string quartet, added an unprecedented element to the evening’s festivities as well.  For an event that is typically filled with continuing education and legal content, Billy and his ensemble were a deviation from the norm. Attendees responded positively to Billy’s addition.
Mary Gummerson, office manager for McGladrey LLP and chair of this year’s SHRM event, said that Billy exceeded expectations. “He wonderfully related the HR profession into his experiences and challenges while entertaining us. He also reminded us through his challenges that the thinking we need to do to solve a problem is not always in front of us.” Mary commented that the SHRM conference does not usually have a musical component. “It was a good fit. Members raved about it; I heard people mention that Billy was fantastic.” She added that Billy’s combination of entertainment and speaking contributed to the overall success of the conference. “He has overcome difficult challenges to become an incredible inspirational speaker who reaches people on an emotional level,” she added.
Jennifer Taschner, human resources director for Fiduciary Counselling, Inc., was among the attendees at the SHRM event. She said, “The foundational core of our work is to know, understand and have empathy for the employees we serve. Yet, there is so much separation due to legal paperwork and compliance updates. Billy’s story brought me back. He made an emotional connection through which I was able to share in his trials, experience his success and see the happiness he now has for the work he is doing.”
In response to hearing Billy’s music at a SHRM conference, Jennifer said, “Music is important in everyone’s life; it touches us in many ways. When I was growing up, we had an improvisational music instructor in grade school. She taught us the value of free-form learning. That understanding has translated into my professional life. Through Billy’s music I am reminded to think creatively, especially in a world that is constantly changing. In my HR role, it’s important to see individuals for what their talents are.  Billy’s combination of music and an emotional message made sense, especially speaking to this group. He is an inspirational singer, songwriter and presenter with a unique style that you wouldn’t expect.”
All photos taken by TJ Jensen

spirit of success
Spirit of Success

Spirit of Success

Anyone who knows me knows how much I believe in the power that we have within ourselves to change life for the better, even when challenges come our way. If all the tools, technology, experience and skill you accumulated were to be taken away overnight, like what happened to me, you’d still have 99.9 percent of what you need to move forward and make life a better place for yourself and those you care about. Looking back at what I learned, I believe we have only scratched the surface of our true potential as individuals and as a society. The source of that potential is not in knowing more things or having more money. It’s in the truth that becomes obvious once all those things are gone, when you finally pay attention to the person, the soul, who has been there all along.
For these reasons, and many more, I am looking forward to the Spirit of Success Summit, on October 17, when I will share the stage with some world-famous speakers who happen to live here in Minnesota. The Spirit of Success speakers include Harvey Mackay, Joan Steffend, Dave Horsager, Paul Scheele and me. Each of us has a powerful message to share about lessons we have learned from life, not books. Over the years, I have attended and presented to lots of business events. Often they focus on things like industry issues and trends, technical and economical subjects that change quickly. Spirit of Success is an event where we will talk about the one thing in life and business that is unchanging.
Along with the speakers you will meet that day, you will also meet some very special people who are inspired to attend this event. They are people who are looking for better ways to work and collaborate with others so that we can all get to where we want to go. Thinking about all that energy in one place and knowing the people who will be presenting at the Summit, I can tell you that, in addition to being inspired, we are going to have a lot of fun. If you want to join us, register at Spirit Of Success.