The story of wheelchair-bound marching student Patrick Henry Hughes, a 19-year-old born with no eyes and the inability to fully extend his arms and legs, has been sweeping the nation. Despite his physical challenges, Patrick Henry has become an accomplished pianist, trumpeter, marcher, singer and symbol of achievement in the face of adversity.
It’s no surprise, then, that Patrick Henry was recently featured on the ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” On Feb. 17, 2008, ABC premiered the two-hour episode documenting the demolition and reconstruction of the Hughes’ house in Louisville, Ky.
The network found out about the family because of a massive letter-writing campaign organized by a group of people affiliated with his school, the University of Louisville (UL), and its band program. Supporters wrote more than 2,000 letters urging the company to help out the family, which had been living in a house unfit for a wheelchair-bound person.
The new house was custom-built for Patrick Henry, his mother, his two brothers and his father, Patrick John, who has dedicated his life to helping his son. Patrick John works part time at night, so that he can attend classes and marching band rehearsals with Patrick Henry. In fact, Patrick John learns all the drill and pushes his son into formation.
The UL band program ultimately benefited from the show because the crew reconstructed the marching band’s practice field. “Inspired by Patrick Henry Hughes,” as the arched entryway says, the field is level, well-groomed and has a shaded rest area.
“The new practice field for me and the marching band is wonderful, mainly due to the fact that I will be able to participate more in the rehearsals,” says Patrick Henry on the show.
To top it all off, Patrick Henry received a new trumpet, recording equipment and a baby grand piano. For more information, visit Patrick Henry’s website at www.PatrickHenryHughes.com.