"The Anniversary Song"

Brett and Jeannine Schoenecker; 2019

“As some people do, we first started out as friends…” said Brett Schoenecker, who was diagnosed with ALS over a year ago.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. When those motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease often become totally paralyzed, and the progressive degeneration of the motor neurons eventually leads to death.

How The Couple Met

Brett’s relationship with his wife, Jeannine, sparked from a seemingly innocent friendship. Working for the same company, Brett and Jeannine shared a common office friend group that often played sports together and met up after a long day at the office for beers and a bite to eat. One night after playing some wallyball, Brett and Jeannine found themselves as the first to arrive to the restaurant they and their friends had agreed to meet up at. As they normally would, they got to talking.

“We were just chatting and Brett asked me for some dating advice,” said Jeannine. “I was all in on giving some advice, but was shocked when the advice he was seeking was about me!”

And the rest is history, the couple agrees.

This is cliche, but we have always been best friends and supported each other no matter the circumstances. We have been and always will be a team, and a damn good one at that,” said Brett.

The story behind “The Anniversary Song”

Since he was in high school, Brett has been an avid singer and guitarist, playing in various bands throughout the area. And 23 years ago, he scored the chance to play at an outdoor Car Cruise. Brett and his band were ecstatic at the opportunity to play for an entirely new crowd. However, Brett soon realized that the date of the gig coincided with his first wedding anniversary with Jeannine.

After going back and forth on how to bring the subject up to Jeannine, Brett finally gained the courage and asked if it would be okay if the band performed on that night. To his surprise, Jeannine responded “sure!” without hesitation, and even offered to come and watch the band perform!

I knew I would want to make it up to her, so in the weeks before the show, I wrote “The Anniversary Song,” said Brett. “At the show, I played it for her and it has been very special to us ever since.”

The semi-biographical original begins by detailing the woes of Brett’s former love life. Determined to follow his own way, “never lonely“, and unbothered by the pressures of society to settle down, Brett was content on his own…

Until the night when his “eyes opened up” and he met Jeannine. After that, his life was changed forever, and the tone of the lyrics shift to emphasize Brett’s unwavering love and adoration for his new wife.

“Nothing on this earth could keep us apart,” he sings, as the intimate guitar solo emerges and Brett is “set free” from his former self. “You’re the one,” then repeats as the instruments slowly begin to fade out and the song comes to a close.

Since Brett’s diagnosis, the couple admits that the value of their time together has changed dramatically. Today, as they continue to battle ALS with the same positive and loving spirit that once sparked their relationship, they have made each other a promise; to live life according to their motto—

“make every day a good day.”

Listen to “The Anniversary Song:”