TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – When the Canton McKinley High School Marching Bulldogs step onto the field on Friday night, Eli Golden is indistinguishable from the rest of the group.
To achieve this, he had to overcome very significant challenges.
Her mother, Marissa Golden, says Eli was born two months earlier and her heart was not born beating.
âFor 21 minutes, they coded him, so he was very, very sick when he was born and was expected not to survive. The biological family pulled him out of the breathing tube just to help him pass peacefully and he started to breathe on his own, âMelissa said.
Eli grew up unable to hear in his left ear, with significant hearing loss in his right. His mother says he has also suffered from mild cerebral palsy since birth.
When he was a toddler his hands would close, so she started sticking pencils in and Eli started typing for a while.
âHe would bang on things all the time and he would sit in his inflatable seat and kick her legs,â Melissa said.
As he grew older his mother said she would notice Eli reaching out to touch the speakers when the music was playing, but they still hadn’t fully understood the severity of his hearing loss yet. .
They later realized how important music, and especially drums, was to him.
âHe’s literally tuned in. Drums are something he looks forward to, something he uses as a release, something that makes sense to him,â said Dr. Ian Rossman of the Akron Children’s Hospital, which worked with Eli and his family.
In the fourth grade, Eli became a member of the Canton City School Academy of Arts. Because he was so in tune with the beat of the music, he joined the band when he became a freshman at McKinley High School.
“To be honest. I was terrified when he wanted to do a marching band because I didn’t know and every time he joined something new you get a little nervous because you never know if people will accept or will be nice and how he feels regardless of their reaction, his mother said.
âAt first it was a bit overwhelming. You know, we have a new student that I try to teach what I’ve been doing for years and I don’t fully understand all the obstacles he faces, âsaid Zachary Taylor, director of the McKinley Township Group. High School.
However, Eli says he can feel the beat.
“He identifies and can feel the low frequency rhythms so that he can feel, maybe, the ground or maybe when he’s wearing the drum or the harness, the basic rhythms of the drums and sometimes, maybe the low brass rhythms because it’s those low frequencies that rumble things around them, âTaylor said.
“You know, when you’re at a fireworks display and there’s a big boom, you don’t just hear it, you feel that wave of percussion in your chest?” This is when you are aware of the other aspects of sound, the percussive aspects of sound, âRossman said.
Eli trains with the help of an interpreter who has been by her side since fourth grade, but when the group performs, she is not there.
His mother says that at first she expected him to be a step or two behind everyone else, but he’s not.
âThe first year was tough, but now in his second year he’s going a lot faster, he’s playing, he’s recovering games faster,â said Taylor.
The Canton McKinley Marching Band was very inclusive with several members in wheelchairs and one visually impaired.
His teachers, group director and family all say that Eli’s remarkable performance was nothing short of inspiring.
âIt teaches other students about compassion, how to be patient, how to work with others who struggle a little more than them, so it teaches all of our students life skills that will help them tremendously,â Taylor said.
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