Special Sounds

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

The last time Steve Summers saw his son marching to the beat of his own drum before Wednesday was during the Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

This performance was a little more special than ones in the past. It was filled with some of his favorite musicians playing his favorite songs.

“Toby Shreck is the one who did all of this,” Jimm Smedley, the chaplain at the Community Hospice in Ashland, said. “He just made it happen. He’s the man. I said, ‘Lets do it.’ And, he did it.”

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Shreck and Jeff Sanders, the Ironton High School band director, coordinated a private performance by the band in which Summers’ 16-year-old son, Ryan, plays the snare drums.

The band marched from the school bus to right outside the entryway of Steve Summers’ room. Nurses pushed his bed outside so he could enjoy the warm weather and good music.

“We like to do what we can because it is important to our patients,” Wilma Justice, a social worker at hospice, said. “It made him have a better day. Some things medicine just can’t do.”

Summers, 45, was diagnosed with oral cancer and Squamous Cell Carcinoma in February. He went through tongue reconstruction in February and began chemotherapy and radiation in March, according to his wife Cindy.

“They were getting ready to release him to go back to work. He was doing so well,” Cindy Summers said. “July 22 they found a mass on his right lung and something on the liver.”

Steve Summers has been in hospice since Friday.

“Right now we are just trying to get the pain controlled enough so he can be comfortable and also enjoy this bunch of kids,” she said.

Ryan Summers said the Wednesday afternoon performance was part of making his father comfortable and happy, but it was also important to his family.

“You never know what could happen,” he said. “It’s God’s will. We just take it one day at a time.”

Not only did the band perform for Steve Summers, but it also dedicates every performance to him and assembled a Relay For Life team to raise money and show him support.

“They were called Steve-O’s crew for life,” Cindy Summers said. “They walked all night.”

Brittany Fox, 17-year-old field commander, said she participated in the walk to show her support for the entire family.

“They’re just really close to me. He’s always been a part of the band,” she said. “I call him ‘Dad’ because he’s like a dad to us.”

She said she hopes the performance made him stronger.

“We want to make him proud and let him know we are always thinking of him,” Fox said.

Ryan Summers said he thinks the performance boosted his father’s confidence and morale.

“I love my dad and may God bless him,” he said.

Cindy Summers said the band, schools and Sharon Baptist Church have been supportive to her family, which has made all of them stronger.

The performance ended with a prayer around Summers’ bed led by band member J.D. Crockrel.