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A wish come true for violinist Lilly

Dream moment: Lilly Kohl, 7, who has a life-threatening illness, plays violin with the Suzuki Strings at Bermuda School of Music (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A dream came true for a little girl from America with a life-threatening heart disease who wanted to play her violin in Bermuda.

Lilly Kohl, 7, was flown to the island from her home in Chicago by children’s charity Make-A-Wish Foundation to perform with the Suzuki Strings at the Bermuda School of Music.

Lilly, who saw the Bermuda Suzuki group perform at her school, the Western Springs School of Talent Education, has wanted to perform with them ever since.

She said: “I like it a lot.”

Her parents Renee and Brennan Kohl accompanied her on the trip.

Ms Kohl said: “We are so excited we are able to do this. Hopefully it will help her. She has had a rough ride.

She added: “It’s her dream, so we are happy they were able to accommodate us. She is so excited.”

Many children granted a wish by the foundation want to visit places like Disneyland, but Lilly was adamant she wanted to play with the island group.

Lilly, who played with the Suzuki Strings for an hour, was born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.

She has had open-heart surgery four times, has chronic lung disease and has developed other health problems.

Lilly and her family arrived on Sunday and will go whale-watching today and fly home tomorrow.

Ms Kohl said Lilly’s condition was spotted before she was born and the family knew she would not be able to play sports.

She added: “Physical activity would be restricted for her so I started looking into Suzuki. I think it has been a godsend.

“She loves it — it’s given her so much confidence.”

Lilly has played the violin for three-and-a-half years.

Mr Kohl said: “It has helped her in school. It has allowed us to be here.”

Kent Hayward, executive director of the Bermuda School of Music, based at the Berkeley Cultural Centre in Pembroke, said the school was “excited to have this opportunity to share some precious moments with Lilly and plan to make it a real celebration in music”.

LaTannia Ellerbe, the co-ordinator of Suzuki Strings, was flattered that Lilly chose to play with the group.

Ms Ellerbe said: “I’m floored that she would pick this to be her wish. It tells us how important it is for us to continue to go abroad and play.”

She said the school tried to take its students abroad to play every two years.

They visited Chicago last October and played several concerts, including the one at Lilly’s school.

Ms Ellerbe was surprised when the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted the School of Music.

The group created a list of songs that Lilly had been working on with her teacher in Chicago and played them with her.

Ms Ellerbe explained Lilly did not want to be in a formal setting but “with a bunch of children playing music”.