In Wheelchair, College Trumpeter Marches Along

Patrick John Hughes (left) pushes the wheelchair of his son, Patrick Henry Hughes

Patrick John Hughes (left) pushes the wheelchair of his son, Patrick Henry Hughes, a member of the University of Louisville marching band. Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Adams, NPR

Among the members of this year's University of Louisville marching band is a musician who is blind and doesn't walk.

At Thursday night's game against visiting conference rival West Virginia, Patrick Henry Hughes was in the trumpet section, in a wheelchair pushed by his father.

The blonde young man, holding his silver trumpet in a white uniform, was spun around the field by his father, who wore a red Louisville jacket.

The two attend all practices and halftime performances, even through the most intricate formations.

During the games, the band has its own plays to execute. And the elder Patrick Hughes, behind his son's wheelchair, says he sometimes gets some help.

"The students who know I'm supposed to be in between them," Hughes says, "will maybe take one hand off their instrument and discreetly point their finger, you know, down to the ground: 'Mr. Hughes, you should be here at this time.'"

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