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Owen Mather marches on despite disability

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 2:32 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - On fall Friday nights, under the bright lights in Crozet, you can find Owen Mather alongside the Western Albemarle High School Marching Band.

“To be in marching band here makes me feel special,” he said.

Owen was born prematurely as a set of triplets. Doctors won the fight to save his life, but a few months later, it was discovered he had Cerebral Palsy.

Now, 18 years later, Owen spends every day doing what he loves.

“It makes me feel like I have people who actually care about me and love me and want me to do my very best all the time every single day,” he said.

“Owen definitely does not have that can’t-do attitude, that’s for sure,” WAHS Band Director Joel Hartshorn said. “He’s been able to conquer everything he’s been put up against and he influences so many people, and he’s had a wonderful impact on myself, the band, the community, and everyone around him for sure.”

Hartshorn met Owen when he was in eighth grade and the rest is history.

“If you’re nervous to try something new, that’s OK if you fail,” Owen said. “Just get up and try again.”

“I’m always amazed to see a student that can have the challenges that he has, and ignore them completely, and be able to just be a part of fully a part of the band,” Hartshorn said.

So when you see Owen and the rest of the band marching on a Friday night this year and playing some of Journey’s greatest hits, they’ll teach you a lesson through music, one that Owen has been teaching others for years: Don’t stop believing.

“As far as I’m concerned I wouldn’t even be here without the people who take care of me every day and want me to do my best,” Owen said. It makes me have courage.”

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