Ethan Cruikshank of Hanover County, Virginia, fell in love with music when he was just 7 years old. By the time he was 9, he'd mastered the guitar and decided that the best way to keep learning about music was to conquer yet another instrument. Mesmerized by the dramatic sighs of the viola, Ethan joined his school's strings program and began taking lessons... which were immediately terminated along with the rest of the school's music program due to budgetary cuts.
Ethan knew that music made him feel accomplished, confident and alive. And so he decided that if the school couldn't give other children the musical opportunities he'd been lucky enough to enjoy, then he would step up to the plate and do it himself.
Since the elimination of the music program would affect more than 400 students, Ethan couldn't do it alone. Undaunted by logistics, he reached out to other musicians he'd met over the years. And so, at just 10 years old, he and his team of musical volunteers were teaching piano, guitar, and violin to their first batch of 13 elementary school students. The year was 2009, and Music To My Ears was born.
Ethan is 14 now. He was the 2013 winner of the Jefferson Awards Youth Service Challenge. He has earned three Presidential Volunteer Service Awards. By the end of their fourth session which recently wrapped up, he and his team have provided more than 1300 hours of community service while helping 73 children learn to play piano, guitar, violin, viola, saxophone, and flute. And that's just the beginning.
He started a second chapter in Maryland. There's another chapter starting up in Texas. Every day, Ethan Cruikshank turns his own love of music into opportunities for other children to take their first steps into a larger world. And that is why he is our Peace Fund Radio Hero of the Week.