Marching Virginians Hokie Pokey Wish Come True

Marching Virginians Hokey PokeyMarching Virginians Hokie Pokey with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to immerse one teen in his two loves: music and the Hokies.

BLACKSBURG, VA – In a sea of white, maroon and orange, the boy dressed all in blue was hard to miss.

But that boy, 15-year-old Zach Bird of Glade Spring in Washington County, didn’t mind. For one day, he was part of Virginia Tech’s marching band, the Marching Virginians. Better still, he was playing “the hokey pokey” at Lane Stadium at the Hokies’ first home game of the 2009 season.

Asked what it was like to play with Tech’s band the Marching Virginians, Zach smiled and said, “Overwhelming.”

A freshman at Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring, Zach got the opportunity to play with the Marching Virginians on Saturday through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

For three years, Zach underwent chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

His last treatment was Aug. 12, his birthday, and his cancer is now in remission.

Zach’s mom and stepdad, Allison and Kevin Holmes, said Zach was referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by a hospital when he first got sick, but he had a hard time deciding what his wish would be.

At one point, he wanted to see the northern lights. Kevin Holmes told him they look the same in person as they do on TV.

Another time, he wanted to go on a cruise.

Finally, with Kevin Holmes’ help, he decided to combine his two loves: music and the Hokies.

Zach played in the band at Glade Spring Middle School and now plays percussion for the high school band. Saturday, he wore his uniform of navy and sky blue as he played the Hokey Pokey on the snare drums with the Marching Virginians at halftime during the Virginia Tech vs. Marshall University football game.

“It’s great that they have done this for him,” Allison Holmes said. “He loves the band and he loves Tech, so this is just the perfect Make-A-Wish for him.”

As part of the wish, Zach, his parents and his 18-year-old sister, Ashleigh Bird, got to spend Friday night at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Marching Virginian Band members gave him T-shirts and signed a drum head for him. He got to practice and have lunch with them before the game.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Karen Webb, the president and CEO for Make-A-Wish in Virginia said Saturday at Lane Stadium, where she spent the day with Zach and his family. Band director “Dave McKee and everybody in the band has just put their hearts out for him.”

Zach said he hopes Saturday was just the first of many days to come playing with the Marching Virginians Hokie Pokey.

After he graduates from high school in 2013, he said, he wants to go to Tech and become a pediatric oncologist.

“And join the band,” he said.

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