In Times of Need

Photo by Kurt Heinecke

In times of great need, the marching band family comes together. Matt Hodge, a senior quad player at Page High School in Franklin, Tenn., was driving home one evening in August when his car was struck by an oncoming train. That night he was given less than a 1 percent chance of living—but he pulled through. Matt has been in a coma ever since.

“That night the waiting room at the hospital was overflowed with kids and band parents,” says Kurt Heinecke, a band parent and friend of the Hodge family. “It’s been an emotional challenge and difficulty, but it’s been neat to see how the band and the school have come together around him.”

Over the past eight months, his parents and friends are constantly engaging him—reading, talking to him, and showing him videos of the band. He occasionally shows small signs of awareness but has yet to wake up. The band has organized fundraisers and gift card donation drives for the Hodge family.

An unexpected form of help came from the Tarpon Springs (Fla.) High School Marching Band, one of Page’s competitors in the Bands of America Super Regionals. When the members there learned about Matt’s situation, they raised $2,000. A small group of students and parents drove to Tennessee to present the Hodge family with the money and a video, spend the day with the band and see Matt. Other local bands and organizations have contributed fundraisers and notes as well.

“It’s been amazing; it’s really lifted their spirits,” Heinecke says. “It hasn’t been easy on them obviously—but they’ve really appreciated the support that they’ve gotten, emotionally and spiritually.”

A “Matt Hodge Family Fund” has been set up to help offset the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses accumulating for his care. Visit the “Official Matt Hodge Support Page” on Facebook.

About author

Elizabeth Geli

Elizabeth Geli is the assistant editor of Halftime Magazine and a journalist/communications professional in Southern California. Her 11 years at the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band included time as a flute player, graduate teaching assistant, and student advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism and master's degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) from USC.

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