Boy shines on stage performing Toby Keith’s ‘Should’ve Been A Cowboy’, changing the narrative surrounding his disability

Updated: Nov. 5, 2018 at 2:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Geismar family is hoping their experience can change the narrative surrounding Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities to create more accepting attitudes and inclusive activities for all people.

Kelli Webber, 43, of Geismar, was attending the 2018 Baton Rouge Veterans Day Parade with her 10-year-old son Parish, when he was invited on stage to perform his favorite song, Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” with a local band.

Webber says Parish can be quite the entertainer on the daily basis, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to share the stage and truly enjoy the spotlight, until now.

“When Parish got on that stage and started to sing, my heart nearly exploded with pride. He was fearless, he was focused, and he was fantastic. I was in awe of how comfortable he looked on the stage and how great he was at rockin’ that microphone. It was like he had been performing his whole life,” she said.

Chris Kent, a fill-in drummer with the 484 South Band explained Parish had approached the side of the stage before the performance to ask if he could come up. Because Kent knew Parish could sing most of the words, he suggested to the other band members that they invite him up to perform with them. Kent says when the band’s lead singer, Philip Cangelosi, called Parish up to the stage he was blown away by the performance.

“I was incredibly proud of Parish and so happy to see him having fun and enjoying performing on stage with us. I’m so thankful to the folks in 484 South Band for allowing me to perform with them for this worthwhile event and allowing Parish to come up and make a memory that I know will last a lifetime,” said Kent.

Webber says thanks to the inclusive attitude of the band others were able to see it’s Parish’s abilities, not his disability, that defines him most.

“I was so thankful for my friends in the 484 South Band who believe in Parish and gave him the opportunity to show his ability. I’ve never been more aware than I was in that moment that this kid can do anything he sets his mind to,” Webber said.

Webber says a way others can learn more about creating inclusive atmospheres for kids with disabilities is through the “Spread The Word To End The Word” campaign which encourages people to pledge to stop saying the “R-Word” as a starting point.

When referring to Parish and others with disabilities, Webber suggest they use another word instead - rockstar.

This story came to WAFB as a submission for our “good news” Facebook group. To nominate an individual for our “Hand It On” segment, click the link here. To submit a “good news” story for coverage contact Kevin Foster.

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