Phil Bemis



Medical Condition: Cardiac disease
Medical Therapy: Heart valve
Charity: Alive & Kickin

In 2008, Phil began experiencing chronic heart problems, which caused him to pass out — seriously disrupting his active life. After receiving a new heart valve, the 82-year-0ld has not had a single heart problem and his life changed for the better. Today, Phil, who began singing 50 years ago as a hobby, is a member of Alive & Kickin, a rock ‘n’ roll senior ensemble that performs across the Twin Cities, Minn. area. Phil’s Bakken Invitation Award will help expand the Alive & Kickin singing group beyond the local community.


“I served more than 37 years with the U.S. Air Force in Minneapolis, and began singing as a hobby 50- years ago with the Viking Male Chorus and the Shrine Chanters. Music and singing have always brought joy to my life, especially when I saw the positive effect it has on others. “Those activities stopped in 2008, when I began experiencing chronic heart problems that caused me to pass out. As a very active person, this was extremely debilitating, and I thought my life might be over. Once I received my new heart valve, my life changed. One year after surgery, I auditioned for a rock ‘n’ roll senior ensemble called Alive & Kickin, and have been a member for six years.

“Our 30-member group performs at senior living facilities, corporations, nonprofits, schools and other venues across the Twin Cities. In 2015, we entertained more than 6,000 people by singing, sharing our stories and telling people they are never too old to start something new.

“That same year, our group made the strategic decision to become tenants at Heritage Park Health & Wellness Center (HPHWC) — a fully accessible senior activity center in North Minneapolis. The facility is home to a medical clinic, adult day program, YMCA and various other social, health and human services providers. As an HPHWC partner, we work to serve seniors and others with disabilities, promoting optimal health and well-being.

“In 2016, Alive & Kickin and our partners will provide a community arts engagement program to disabled seniors with ongoing music and vocal programs. This program greatly expands our mission into a community that is underserved — representing our state’s diversity, and providing a significant long-term impact for people with disabilities as participants or patrons in our programs.”


“It can be as simple as someone saying, ‘I care and I am here for you. You matter to me.’”


Alive & Kickin is a nonprofit organization featuring a talented ensemble of performers ages 65 to 91. The organization’s mission is to give voice to seniors through personal story and popular song, empowering members to entertain and enlighten multigenerational audiences. The group’s outreach and education program engages audiences with the powerful message of inspiration at senior care facilities and schools. This grant will help expand the Alive & Kickin singing group beyond the local community to target underserved, disabled seniors.

*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you.