The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


November 6, 2013

Special needs first-grader serves as honorary drum major

Strike Up the Band

WEST LIMESTONE — Even before she could talk, it was easy to see Kelli Gooch loved music. The first-grader would watch her brother, Cameron, on Friday nights play in West Limestone High School’s marching band, wishing she could join them for a tune.

At West Limestone’s last home football game, Kelli lived that dream. Donning her very own black and blue drum major uniform, Kelli led West Limestone’s band onto the field.

“She always acts likes she’s leading the band at home while one of us plays music,” said Lori Gooch, Kelli’s mother. “After the games and in the band room, she’s always playing some kind of instrument. Of course, everybody at school knows her and was happy to see her out there.”

Kelli, a first-grader at West Limestone, was born with Down syndrome. That hasn’t stopped her from bringing joy to the Gooch family and everyone else sitting in the stands last month at James Kennemer Stadium.

“She has always loved the drums,” said Lori.  “Before she ever started school, the babysitter would give her spoons to bang around her house. We gave her a drum for Christmas. With our son being in the band, she watches them all the time.”

Like other band families, the Gooches travel on Friday nights for football games and on weekends for band competitions. After one of those competitions, West Limestone drum major Rachel Taylor approached Lori about her daughter joining her on the field for a game.

“It was a shock to me, too,” said Lori. “I didn’t know anything about it until Rachel approached me. It was a great experience.”

Taylor had heard how much Kelli loved to watch them play during halftime. She wanted the band’s biggest fan to join them for the final game of the season.

Walking hand-in-hand with Taylor, Kelli smiled proudly as she marched West Limestone’s band into the stadium for a game against Haleyville Oct. 25.

“Her thought was that she was going to go out on the field and stand on the podium,” said Lori. “We told her she would be able to walk in with her (Taylor). She was a little hesitant at first because it was so loud, but once she got down there, she loved it.”

Kelli sat with Taylor and the rest of the band for most of the football game. It was the Wildcats’ last home game before the playoffs.

West Limestone will be on the road Friday, but could play at home if they advance to the second round. If West Limestone does have another home game this season, you can count on Kelli being there to cheer them on.

Text Only
Top Local News
Today's Local Feature

State and Nation
Local Sports

Calendar of Events
  • Limestone Ledger 4/19/14

    Safe driving course
    The AARP safe driving course will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Council on Aging office, 912 W. Pryor St. Cost is $15 for AARP members. All others, $20. Participants are asked to bring lunch or snacks. RSVP to Emily Sandlin at 256-216-3906.

    April 19, 2014

  • Limestone Ledger 4/18/14
Weather Radar

What is your favorite Easter candy?

Chocolate bunnies
Marshmallow chicks
Chocolate eggs with filling
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Business Marquee
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.