A special man gets a musical treat

Nikki Vroman

Nikki Vroman

Les Schmeichel, a resident at Advance, an assisted living program in Brookings, finds inspiration and excitement listening to the SDSU Jazz Band rehearsals.

Confined to a wheelchair, Les is blind and does not communicate with words. Therefore, sound is very important to him. After noting Les’s positive reactions to music, Advance employee, Janelle Wellnite contacted the SDSU music department in order to get him involved with live music. Jazz director, Corliss Johnson agreed to the arrangement.

“We’re happy to accommodate him,” he says.

Two years later, Les still attends the rehearsals with excitement. Every week an Advance employee drives him to campus so he can listen to the jazz rehearsals.

Les is in his 20s, and just like most other people his age, listens to a variety of music and usually has something playing in his room at home. Anything goes, but the more rhythm a tune has, the better. He has also been to performances by the Brookings High School Band and the SDSU Pride of the Dakotas drum line. Wellnite says that she once had him situated so that the drum line marched right past him during the performance.

“He loved it from his head to his toes.”