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A band apart: Special-needs musicians aim for world title

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/31/2017 By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press
In this March 22, 2017, photo, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps rehearses a routine with fellow percussionists in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps rehearses a routine with fellow percussionists in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. (AP) — This group of flag wavers, rifle twirlers, drummers and other musicians may look like any other marching band at first glance.

In this March 22, 2017, photo a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps practices her technique before a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps practices her technique before a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

But the FREE Players Drum Corps from Old Bethpage, New York, is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps rehearse a routine in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps rehearse a routine in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The corps started in 2010 as a modest group of adults who wanted to learn the rudiments of drum playing. It now has 65 members. That includes a drum line, color guard, and ensemble of guitars, keyboards and other instruments. A brass and woodwind section is being added this year.

In this March 22, 2017, photo, Katie McGuire, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps waits for practice to begin in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, Katie McGuire, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps waits for practice to begin in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

They've performed at Disney World in Florida and marched in New York's City's Columbus Day Parade.

In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps practice their technique before a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps practice their technique before a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Now they are setting sights on playing an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. They have a Go-Fund Me fundraiser aimed at gathering the $65,000 it will cost to make the trip.

In this March 22, 2017, photo, Stephen Malerba, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps, plays on a trap set during a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, Stephen Malerba, a member of the FREE Players Drum Corps, plays on a trap set during a rehearsal in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps prepare for a rehearsal, in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World in Florida and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) © The Associated Press In this March 22, 2017, photo, members of the FREE Players Drum Corps prepare for a rehearsal, in Old Bethpage, N.Y. The 65-member band is composed entirely of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. They've performed at Disney World in Florida and marched in New York City's Columbus Day Parade. Now they’ve been invited to play an exhibition at the 2018 world championships in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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