MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – High school marching bands have some large instruments and you need two hands to play many of them, but one St. James High School student who recently lost most of his right arm is getting a second chance to make some music.
Declan Maloney loves playing the baritone horn in the St. James marching band and first played in it last year.
“It’s like multitasking,” said Maloney. “You’re looking at the music sheet, doing your fingerings while playing and it’s fun.”
In November, Maloney had a cyst removed from his right wrist. It was thought to be harmless, but a week later, his doctor said he had a form of cancer called epithelioid sarcoma. Maloney’s right arm was amputated from near his elbow.
Maloney says he and his family were shocked.
“It was like 90% diagnosed as a ganglion cyst, so basically nobody really knew,” he said.
Maloney is left-handed, but he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to play the instrument he loves again.
“I hoped, but the same part of my mind was like, I don’t know, because all those moves are right-handed,” Maloney said.
Chuck Capps, who’s the instrument ensemble director at St. James, says he had an idea to use some band equipment to help Declan play the right-handed horn with his left hand.
Capps got some help from his father and Sharks alumnus Ethan Bautz to make the harness.
“We basically took a drum harness that has two bars that come up off of it and then I used a concert tom mount setup that holds two concert drums,” said Capps.
A wooden block also pushes the baritone horn’s valves towards Maloney’s left side.
Declan’s mother Allison Burke-Maloney says she was there to hear his first notes in the harness.
“It made me want to cry just like when I saw him ride a bike one week after his amputation, a trike bike, and when he held his first lacrosse stick,” Burke-Maloney said.
Maloney says he was thrilled to try it out and is excited for his first season with a new piece of equipment.
“(It was) like a new car,” said Maloney. “Let’s say you have a car and it just gets taken away from you like my arm, but then I gained it back, so now I can play again.”
Declan says his dream is to march for the Gamecocks at the University of South Carolina. He’ll march in a game with his harness for the first time for the Sharks when St. James hosts Loris in football next Friday.
You can donate on this GoFundMe page towards Declan’s medical costs and his family’s goal of purchasing a prosthetic bionic hand.