Laura VanDoren (left in photo) saw a musician suffer a serious injury on the field at the Drum Corps International (DCI) championships nearly a decade ago. Since then, she has worked to make the activity safer and healthier. For her role in leading the Marching Music Health and Wellness Project, started as the Drum Corps Medical Project in 2007, VanDoren received the 2019 DCI George Bonfiglio Chairperson’s Award.
In 2010, DCI asked VanDoren, who is a nurse practitioner with decades of involvement in the drum corps activity, to chair the initiative. After helping to reorganize and renew the project, VanDoren took a break from the position in 2016 before resuming as chair in January 2018.
The project contributed to DCI policy changes to ensure that medical professionals travel with each corps. DCI encourages a sports medicine approach to healthcare, educating corps personnel on injury prevention and other medical issues.
“We understand what goes into the activity, … so we’re certainly not going to say something like, ‘Take two weeks off, go home, and soak this in your tub’ because there is no bathtub, and it’s not feasible,” VanDoren says.
This upcoming year, the project will focus heavily on concussion management, sports physical exams during the audition process, and mental health awareness.
VanDoren says she was surprised to receive the George Bonfiglio Chairperson’s Award, which is given to someone who shows remarkable leadership and service in DCI.
“I’m really honored and humbled because it reminds me that we can’t be satisfied with the status quo, and we can hurdle these obstacles together and make this a safer activity for kids,” she says.