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Velvet Knights make wishes come true

by Jim Claytor, DCW staff
musicforfilm@yahoo.com

This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Drum Corps World.

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The Make a Wish Foundation and the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps from Pasadena, CA, helped make two wishes come true on Saturday, April 3.

It’s a great morning here in Southern California, temperature is perfect and the Velvet Knights’ winter drum line, Full Force Percussion, took time out of their busy schedule to make two wishes a reality.

Daniel Randall, a 9-year-old with an infectious smile, was diagnosed with leukemia and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments here in Los Angeles. For young children, going through this difficult regimen is extremely taxing. Not only is it physical, but extremely mental, especially not being able to go outside and play like a kid.

The truly difficult part of the treatment is being just plain exhausted and even though the desire is there, the body sometimes doesn’t respond as fast as we would like it to. But Daniel is a real trooper and his one ultimate wish was to see a real drum line, in person, and that the Velvet Knights provided beautifully.

When Daniel’s limo pulled up in front of the newly-renovated Westfield Mall in Culver City and he stepped out to see cameras flashing and the VK drum line playing just for him, the only thing you could see on this little boy’s face was one giant smile. Though he was on crutches and eventually a wheel chair, after a few minutes of standing with the drum line, Daniel could not wait to get up-close and personal to the drummers, so he could play on one of the snares.

I have to say that the Velvet Knights’ winter drum line treated him like a rock star and my hat is off to all of you drummers for the respect you gave Daniel and his wish.

After Daniel left to go inside the mall shopping with the Make a Wish Foundation staff, a second limo that pulled up. Geovanny Molina stepped out onto the red carpet to also be greeted by the VK winter drum line. With cameras flashing and friends calling out his name, Geovanny felt like he was up for an Academy Award.

He is your typical teenager — baggy jeans, t-shirt and a really cool, laidback attitude, but unfortunately, like Daniel Randall, Geovanny has also been diagnosed with cancer.

As the festivities ended, Mayra Irahita, the corps director, came over and introduced me to one of the cymbal players from the drum line — Alexandra Luna, a beautiful young girl who I was surprised to find out was also diagnosed with cancer.

We spoke for a bit and she conveyed to me that the love she has for drum corps is instilled deep within her heart that hopefully in the 2011 season she will be able to actually march her first field show. Because of her current chemotherapy regimen, Alexandra has to forfeit marching this season until she finishes her treatments sometime this December.

None of us can predict the outcome of our own personal health, but with the help of true friends, family and groups like the Velvet Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, situations like I witnessed today can truly create many positive feelings for us all and give every single one of us hope.

As a writer for Drum Corps World newspaper, I would personally like to give a heart-felt thank you to the Velvet Knights and the Make a Wish Foundation for the love and effort given today to make these wishes come true for deserving kids.

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Drum Corps World is published as an on-line electronic magazine by Sights & Sounds, Inc., Madison, WI. It is supported by advertising from manufacturers, service providers, corps, circuits and show sponsors. The publication began in October 1971 at the same time Drum Corps International was formed and has been produced continuously as a tabloid newspaper until April 2011 and on the Internet since May 2011. It is released monthly, as well as six additional e-mail blasts, one in late June, three during July and two in August.

The worldwide staff of writers and photographers provide show reviews during the season and interviews, feature articles, news and human interest stories during the off-season. The photographs that appear in the magazine are provided by 27 staff members who are scattered around the world. The publication covers World and Open Class Drum Corps International corps, Open and Class A Drum Corps Associates corps, alumni, mini-, parade and standstill units, as well as the growing activity in Europe, the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and South Africa.