Through her connection with Marie, she met and formed friendships with the rest of the Osmond family.
She eventually adopted their Mormon faith with Merrill even performing a special ordination for her mission work. Later, she relocated to Utah and partnered with the brothers on various professional and charitable projects. She's co-written books and music with Merrill and has helped out with events for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, of which the Osmonds are ardent supporters.
In 2005, however, Cara Marie’s mother was diagnosed with a debilitating but little understood disease called pulmonary arterial hypertensive scleroderma. Little more than three years after her diagnosis, her mother died from its effects.
Determined to make a difference for others afflicted by the rare and deadly disease, Cara Marie approached Merrill Osmond last spring about performing a benefit concert. The man who is widely known for his generous philanthropic efforts, of course, said yes.
“I don’t think there are too many celebrities who would come down to Blue Earth and perform on a grandstand stage,” Cara Marie said.
For Cara, the event represents a victory in the fight to shed some light on the dark disease that took her mother's life.
The form of scleroderma that affected Cara's mother was a systemic variety that essentially causes an excess of collagen and fibrous material to harden and thicken skin and internal organs. When her mother was diagnosed, the disease had already spread to her lungs and heart, causing her shortness of breath and putting extreme stress on her circulatory system.
In the next few years, the disease would spread to her limbs, face, esophagus and mouth.
"When you touched her arms, it felt almost like they were petrified," Cara said, recalling the four years that she moved back to Winnebago to care for her mother. "It's deforming, too. It makes people who have it feel very self-conscious and isolated."