OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A band from Long Island is trying to make history as the first special needs band to perform at the Drum Corps International World Championships.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, the group of passionate disabled adults has joy in their eyes and pep in their step.READ MORE: Some Health Care Workers Still Defiant As New York State Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect
“I love to encourage myself to be a role model for people,” said snare drum player Michael Brennan.
The group is known as the FREE Players Drum Corps . FREE stands for Family Residences and Essential Services – a nonprofit in Bethpage, Long Island that provides services for people with disabilities.
A music specialist there created the marching band seven years ago.
“They want to be treated with dignity, and respect — and just be accepted into the regular world just like everybody else,” said Brian Calhoun, director of the drum corps. “And participation in drum corps has been able to provide that for all the program participants.”
The group is made up entirely of adults who have overcome the challenges of mild to moderate disabilities.
“They said: ‘Good job — congratulations. And go out there and knock ’em dead,’” said Leah Saitta, who plays the marching snare drum.READ MORE: New York City's Vaccine Mandate Could Impact Nets Season, As Some Players Still Haven't Gotten Shot
The FREE Players Drum Corps has played at Disney World, and also marched in the New York City Columbus Day Parade. Many members say the best part is the adoring audiences.
“Oh, it’s amazing — hearing the crowd applaud like that,” said percussion instructor and drum set player Steve Malerba. “It’s so electrifying.”
“I like the crowd cheering,” said section leader Shaun McLeod, who plays the quads. “They also like me doing the dap.”
Now, the drum corps is hoping to play for the crowds in Indianapolis. They have been invited there for the 2018 Drum Corps International World Championships.
They would be the first special needs band ever to perform at the competition.
The band is trying to raise $65,000 to make the trip – a likely achievable goal for a group that has already proven it has no limits.MORE NEWS: Manhunt Underway After Suspect Escapes Custody At Bellevue Hospital