So when he enrolled at the university, young Patrick asked to join the pep band, which guaranteed a precious seat at Cardinals basketball games. But director Byrne crossed him up. He asked him, "Why don't you join the marching band?"
Next thing you know, the teenager and his father were at band summer camp—12-hour days with only 90-minute breaks for lunch and dinner. Dad pushed like crazy, and young Patrick played the theme from Superman while being whirled around in his own giddy darkness.
It about killed Pop. "I was whipped," he says. So he took the chair to a mechanic friend, who rigged it with bigger, wider wheels. That helped them get through the triple Axel of marching-band maneuvers: the dreaded Diamond. Two battalions of marchers come at each other in full stride, intersect, reverse, then split apart again. To pull it off, Dad has to pop a wheelie, spin the chair, try not to wipe out the entire wind section, then peel off the other way. "It takes everything I've got to make sure I'm in step," the older Patrick says. "If I don't get there quick enough, or cut quick enough, I'm the lone cowboy out at the end of this thing. I don't want people to remember us as the kid in the wheelchair whose dad couldn't keep up."
"I'm so jealous," says Byrne. "My father-son time with my dad is golf, twice a year. Patrick gets to be with his dad all the time."
Don't you love pushy parents?
Life with this kid just keeps getting more fun. "We still say, Why us?" says the father. "But now it's, Why us—how'd we get so lucky?"
I asked young Patrick what he thought his dad looked like, this man who's devoting his life to him. "Tall, skinny, muscular and bald," he said, laughing.
Yeah, there are lots of ways to play Superman.
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