Hoffman Estates singer, performer won't let MS slow her down

Steeped in a love of music all her life, a talented woman recently headed in a different direction and immersed herself in drama.

Portraying an aged woman confined to a wheelchair, Hoffman Estates resident Linda Hari recently delved into her first dramatic venture in "Talking With---," written by Jane Martin and presented at Harper College.

The role in some ways mirrored her own life. Hari, 48, has MS and is in a wheelchair much of the time.

She has an impressive background as singer, composer and entertainer - you may know her by her professional name, Linda Collins Hart - and is presently a Harper student pursuing a bachelor's degree.

During "Talking With-," Hari did one of 11 monologues concerning her character's life, emotions and challenges.

The dramatic participation taught her "the story is the focus" and the demand is to make the character real. She joined the college's speech and debate team to further her experience.

"No matter what my physical challenges are, I can't sit still very long," Hari said. "I joined the debate team because I wanted to stimulate my mind and see if I could do it."

At the last two tournaments she broke into the final rounds. She calls her participation "rewarding and fun."

"Besides, I had to fill time between classes, the play, volunteer work, home and family," Hari beamed.

No one needs to shy from the word 'disabled,' Hari says. She acknowledges she has limitations but intends for her career goals to override them where possible. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in broadcasting and intends to go to Columbia College after Harper.

She says using her voice - she's been singing since she was 4 and had her first gig at 16 singing at a wedding - whether speaking, singing or doing commercial voice-overs is on the top burner.

She has sung professionally in cabarets, for weddings and during village-sponsored events, including 911 remembrances and Veteran's Day.

"Singing will always be my first love but I often think of TV news as a health beat reporter or radio news with a medical focus," Hari said. "Honestly, I'd be happy to report the local traffic and weather."

"I think I could relate to medical issues and people of any age who have health problems and not just MS," Hari said.

Hari, the spouse of Hoffman Estates Public Works Director Ken Hari, says that given her age and disability, the employment opportunities in broadcasting won't be as numerous as for typical college grads.

If the broadcasting career doesn't pan out Hari may return to school for a master's degree in education and pursue teaching.

A joyful person, her personality shines and she is happiest when she is among people.

Hari decided that Harper is a sprawling campus that is tough to navigate in a wheelchair, so she took her concerns to the director of disabled services. She wound up as a student representative for the facilities committee.

"I am excited about this opportunity because I will help by looking at the new plans for the school and assist with accessibility issues sure to arise," she adds.

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