‘Music can connect us all’: Salem student with Down syndrome fulfills dream of marching with the band

Local News

William Champlin will be able to represent all of the battles he's overcome by beating his drum on the big stage

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – “Just to know that he’s included like any other child, because he is. That’s how our world should be… it’s not exclusion, it’s inclusion.”

Stephanie Champlin’s son, 13-year-old William Champlin, lives with Down Syndrome. On Friday night, one of William’s dreams will finally come true, to walk alongside Salem High School’s marching band at a football game.

Before the Salem Quakers take on United Friday night, the band will march through the streets and into the stadium as part of the school’s “Future Band Night,” where middle school band students walk with the high schoolers as part of the band all night.

Watch as William Champlin heads to the football stadium with Salem’s band

What makes the tradition even more special this year is that William, a seventh grader at Salem, will be able to represent all of the battles he’s overcome by beating his drum on the big stage.

“Everything that he’s had to work and do, to get to the point where he could participate in a night like upcoming band night,” Stephanie said.

Even though William was born with Down syndrome, it doesn’t stop him from pushing to do what he loves, being in the band.

“Walking, eating, simple things that we take for granted that most kids just pick up on their own, William’s had to work for,” Stephanie said. “When you think about that and you put it in context today, it is so much more than just getting to walk with the band.”

It’s an experience band director Hannah Dickson says shows that there are no limits to what anyone can do.

“Music is something that connects us. I think it’s really cool that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, that music can connect us all,” Dickson said.

With a smile across his face and drumsticks in his hand, William is living proof of that connection.

“Allow your kids to dream, support those dreams and relish in the days those dreams become a reality,” Stephanie said. “Today is a dream come true for my child.”

The band will march to the stadium at 5:30 p.m. and kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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