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Smoky Hill seniors overcome obstacles to become part of marching band together

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A lesson in the power of friendship and compassion is coming from two local high school seniors.

In a marching band, where every musician plays a part, staying in sync makes the performance.

“Every student has their own unique spot,” said Zak Ruffert, director of bands at Smoky Hill High School. So when we’re missing somebody, there’s quite literally a hole in the band, a blank spot on the field.”

At Smoky Hill High School, two seniors make the marching band whole together: Nolan Dauer and Donovan Light.

“Donovan plays the trumpet and Nolan moves them where he needs to be,” Ruffert said. “Together, it completes the picture.”

The friendship between Dauer and Light goes back to middle school.

“We hung out during lunches and talked to each other then,” Dauer said.

A school later, those conversations evolved into harmony.

“Freshman year, I was still very interested in the marching band, but I realized music was getting hard for me,” Dauer said.

At Smoky Hill High School, two seniors are partners in marching band. Nolan Dauer and Donovan Light fill the role of a single trumpeter. (KDVR)

While Dauer was missing the instrument part, Light has spina bifida. He gets from class to class on crutches, but for band, he plays the trumpet.

“Obviously, I couldn’t do the marching part as well,” Light said, laughing to Dauer. “You offered to help me out with the marching part. And I was going to — I’m being completely honest here — I was very concerned if you wanted to do that or not. Like, I know you’re my friend, you know, but do you really want to spend your whole time just walking around?”

The answer to Light’s question is pretty clear watching them at practice three years later. FOX31 captured the sights and sounds at practice and their first competition of the season.

“I don’t really think about my disability too much when I’m in here, I just focus on the playing part and leave the marching part to him,” Light said.

“Overall, there’s not a martyr. We’re not sacrificing anything, either of us,” Dauer said, adding to Light: “You forget that if one of us is gone, the other one is out of commission.”

Duo’s final season in marching band

After their final season in band together, the two are figuring out what the future holds. They’ve talked to one another about what they want to do after graduation.

“I might go to community college to work on my skills for physical therapy,” Light said. “I want to help others with physical disabilities so that they can get the treatment they need from someone who might know what they’re going through.”

Dauer said he sees a future in aviation. The duo knows that no matter where they end up, they’re bound to stay in touch and get back together.

“I have no doubt that that will happen,” Light said.

“If not, I’ll find you and we will hang out,” Dauer said.

Dauer and Light recently received hero awards from the Cherry Creek School District superintendent.

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