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'They've shown love for my son': Marion students perform song to honor 7-year-old

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Posted at 10:44 PM, May 11, 2024

UPDATE | Elliott's Song is available for download.

MARION — A once-in-a lifetime performance brought the story of a special needs student named Elliot to life on Saturday.

Hundreds of Marion Community School students came together at the Walton Performing Arts Center to make it all happen through music.

“I am so proud of the Marion Community School students for how they accepted my son. They have shown love for my son,” said Elliot’s mom, Jonni Winegardner.

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"Elliot's Song" Performance

Students used song to honor 7-year-old Elliot, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a genetic condition that impacts his mobility.

“To see all of these students that I see everyday driving the school bus coming together, not just because they had to, but because they were interested and wanted to know about Elliot," said Jonni. "They were excited about it."

The song was inspired by a fairy-tale adventure story about pirates and treasure.

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"Elliot's Song" Performance

It was written by the kindergartner who attends Frances Slocum Elementary School and his brother Kaden, a senior at Marion High School.

“It was a fun story that we made, and I was actually happy that it came into a song,” said Kaden.

The story was transformed into “Elliot’s Song” with the help of Sing Me a Story Foundation.

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"Elliot's Song" Performance

“It was a lot of fun to be able to write something of this scale and something that was so meaningful to Elliot that could give him the opportunity to express himself that he doesn’t usually get,” said Jonathan New, a composition major at Indiana Wesleyan, who created the song.

On Saturday, the community got to hear Marion Community Schools students perform the piece.

“Every time we practiced, we could tell it meant more than any other song,” said Marion High School Senior Aidan Ruley. “I think we all collectively worked harder on it than most songs and we wanted to make sure every note is right.”

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"Elliot's Song" Performance

“You premiere a piece of music maybe once in your lifetime, and to do this with the meaning behind it being a student in our district — to be a part of that experience is a unique feeling,” added Joshua Huff, the Director of Bands and Fine Arts at the high school.

It was a chance to also bring everyone together for a cause.

“It’s really cool that it’s going to give us a chance to give back to cure SMA, a way to maybe eventually find a cure for what heals my son,” added Elliot’s dad, Matt.

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"Elliot's Song" Performance

The premiere of "Elliott’s Song" was a part of the district's all-city art show weekend.

A recording will be made of the performance and will be a part of a donation drive and walk to benefit Cure SMA.

Elliott's team is called "Elliot's Entourage."