KAUFMAN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — Micah Diffee of Forney has never been one to toot his own horn. A member of the Forney High School band, the 16-year-old says he decided on the trumpet, in part, because his grandfather once played the instrument, and yes, there’s a certain element of ‘cool’.
“I thought it would be interesting as a hobby to play music,” shares Micah when we visited on a recent sunny day. But the teenager wanted to do more than play the trumpet — he wanted to play it alongside his classmates in the marching band.
“Everyone playing really loud and playing together and moving around, just caught my interest, and I wanted to be a part of it,” says Micah.
The teen admits he toyed with the idea for a while, and almost talked himself out of it, but then decided to go for it. He wanted to be in the marching band — wheelchair and all.
“My first thought was, ‘I’ve never had this opportunity before in my career with a student like Micah,’” says Cody Newman, Forney High’s Band Director.
But Newman didn’t hesitate and immediately set to work to make it happen. “We’ve got a wonderful staff here,” he said. “Drill designer Casey Snead — who just went out of his way to make it possible for Micah to be a part, and to not only be a part, but be fully integrated so that he could feel like he was just one of the marching band members.”
Micah admits that maneuvering his wheelchair on turf was much harder than navigating on concrete– but he was determined.
“In the beginning of the summer, they actually took me on the field and measured what I could do, how far I could go, things like that. And they put that into the show to help me move around easily and just make things better.”
Not only does Micah maneuver himself on the field, he plays his trumpet as well. He says his brother welded a special trumpet stand to his wheelchair, to hold it while he’s moving his formation.
“He’s dancing and moving and going backwards and forward as hard as he can, giving 110%,” says his mother, Michelle Diffee with pride, “brings tears to my eyes every time I see him on the field.”
And the determined teen is moving the community, as well.
“Everywhere I go [I hear] ‘that boy in the wheelchair, he’s so amazing,’” shares Newman, who says his reply is, “I know he is. I see him every single day and every single day I am more amazed at his commitment.”
“Micah has not had many obstacles in life that he has not conquered,” shares his mom, who admits that Micah has even managed to turn cruelty into resilience. “Kids can be mean,” she admits, and they have been. “It has been a part of forming and molding him.”
And yet Michelle Diffee says seeing the kindness, inclusion and camaraderie among the band members has been “amazing”… adding, “it’s all any parent wants is to see their kids successful.”
As for Micah, he says he would encourage others who are navigating life differently, to not give up if there’s something they really want to do. “All the bad people that you see on TV and that you hear about in high school, there are actually some people who will be nice to you and will support you,” he said.
“They’re so proud of him, but he’s also just one of the guys,” says Newman, “and he’s just a trumpet player, and they give each other a hard time… but they’re proud of him.”
“It’s actually really funny,” admits Micah. “They start telling me how I’m an inspiration… just messing with me and stuff,” he adds with a bashful laugh.
But for his mom, the kindness of his peers is like the light that shines brightest in the darkness. “It’s all any mom ever wants for their child,” she says, “friends that truly care about them– whether you have an able-bodied child or not.”
And Newman sees Micah’s involvement as a learning opportunity for them all. “They’re going to encounter people with all different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures challenges,” he says. “Hopefully this situation will help them learn — don’t place a limit on anybody! Don’t place a limit on anybody.”