Negotiating a wheelchair onto a grassy field for a half-time performance at a football game could present a bit of a struggle, but it didn’t slow Sarah Abma down.
Just ask her: the highlight of her four years of high school was performing with the marching band and, in particular, the four trips to compete in the state finals. A big payoff was when Kent City placed third in the state this past season.
Sarah, who plays clarinet, has been in band for seven years.
She was born with a disability that she understood “at a very young age” would mean walking could eventually be near impossible. She worked hard and used crutches for quite a few years, but said after a foot injury found it easier to use a wheelchair, “especially in the crowded hallways. I need to be able to get around.”
To some, not being able to walk might mean marching band was out, but not for Sarah. She credits friend Jessica Barnard with getting her where she needed to be, especially when it came to marching band. “She would make sure I could get the chair through the grass.”
“I have appreciated and respected that she has not backed down from being part of the marching band over the years,” said Jonathan Schnicke, director of music for Kent City Secondary Schools. “Sarah has a kind and gentle spirit. She is soft-spoken, but has a heart of gold.”
Sarah is quiet and well liked and respected by her peers, said Principal Bill Crane. She was voted prom queen by the senior class. And she earned a “We are Kent City” award, which highlight students who go above and beyond while they are at the high school.
Sarah said she enjoyed her journey through high school and really didn’t have a favorite subject. “I guess if I had to choose, I liked science classes best,” she said.
She will head to Baker College in the fall to pursue an associate degree in veterinary technology.
“I have always been interested in animals,” she said. Her family has three cats and one dog, and she shared about her special fondness for Tucker, a Boston terrier that has been with her for more than seven years.
Sarah says that she couldn’t be where she is without the special people in her life.
“My friends and family got me here,” she said. “They always pushed me and made sure I got to graduation.”