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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

NPR's Noah Adams was at the game last night between Louisville and the West Virginia Mountaineers. He says the football was great, but he was really there to watch a trumpet player.

NOAH ADAMS: The University of Louisville marching band has a member who cannot see and cannot march. But Patrick Henry Hughes is right there in the trumpet section in a wheelchair pushed by his father. A short, blonde young man, white uniform, silver trumpet raised, being spun around the field by his dad, who wears a red Louisville jacket.

(Soundbite of marching band)

ADAMS: These two men are a team unto themselves. Patrick Henry Hughes, the son, Patrick John Hughes, the father, and he says the music was there from the very beginning for his son.

Mr. PATRICK JOHN HUGHES: If I have him fed and changed then he should be happy. But as babies do they cry and you don't know why. And I found that I could lay him on top of the piano in his carseat carrier and play the piano and he would get quiet immediately.

(Soundbite of piano)

ADAMS: This is the now 18-year-old college freshman at the family piano. As we talked about how far back he can remember, imagine this, at two years old -

Mr. PATRICK HENRY HUGHES (University of Louisville Marching Band Trumpeter): Sometimes the sounds would remind me of, like the voices of my different relatives. Like these two notes right here.

(Soundbite of piano)

Mr. P.H. HUGHES: Would remind me somewhat of my mom's voice. These notes right here -

(Soundbite of piano)

Mr. P.H. HUGHES: Were my grandmother's voice. Then I had a few notes like this one:

(Soundbite of piano)

Mr. P.H. HUGHES: And -

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. P.H. HUGHES: Like some of those were mainly based on if I met a stranger at like a store. It'd remind me of that type of voice.

ADAMS: Patrick Henry Hughes cannot understand what it would be like to see. But also his legs won't straighten out and he's never walked. He would choose that ability over vision. He doesn't want to be so dependent. Patrick Hughes the elder gets four and a half hours sleep and that's after 5:00 a.m. when he gets off work at UPS.

He takes his son to classes, to practice, to the games. He says he's having a new kind of fun.

Mr. P.J. HUGHES: Spending father/son time together is great. I'm really tickled that as an 18-year-old young man he still doesn't mind having me, you know, hang around and participate as actively in his life as I do.

(Soundbite of marching band)

ADAMS: For the games, the band has its own plays to execute. And Mr. Hughes behind his son's wheelchair gets some help with that.

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

ADAMS: The pre-game music is welcome, but these fans want to scream.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

ADAMS: And they do. Especially as the Cardinals take the halftime lead. Then a surprise on the field. Patrick Hughes sits at a keyboard wearing Ray Charles sunglasses and doing what he calls the Ray sway. He plays one minute and 58 seconds of What I Say.

(Soundbite of song, "What I Say")

ADAMS: R and B star Patrick Hughes. Music could be in his future or maybe he'll be a Spanish interpreter, but perhaps -

Mr. P.H. HUGHES: I would really love to be the host of a popular television game show. I like to kiss all the women. I finally found out the reason I like to kiss the women. It kind of helps me be able to get a clear picture of what they might look like.

ADAMS: Patrick Henry Hughes, a member of the Cardinals Marching Band.

Noah Adams, NPR News, Louisville, Kentucky.

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