The Patrick John Hughes Parent Booster Award recognizes the extraordinary commitment, dedication, support and sacrifice of music parents and boosters across the nation by shining a spotlight on a recipient who exemplifies these qualities.
The award is named in honor of Patrick John Hughes, the father of Patrick Henry Hughes. Patrick Henry is a remarkable young man who, despite physical challenges that would seem overwhelming to many, has excelled as a musician and student, singing and playing piano and trumpet with the Louisville Marching and Pep Bands, with the help of his father, who tirelessly maneuvers his son’s wheelchair through the formations with the other 220+ members of the Cardinal Marching Band.
On Friday night during Grand Nationals the 2015 Patrick John Hughes Parent Booster award was awarded to Derek Greer of Owasso, OK.
Every winner of the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award shares the common traits of selflessness, savvy, and passion to better the band. Derek Greer of Owasso, Okla., is no different, but his desire to help others has extended beyond the barriers of the school to touch the life of a young band alumna with a life-threatening condition. Greer and his wife April began working with the Owasso Band Patrons of the Pride of Owasso band when their eldest son Nate entered the program in the fall of 2006. They became mainstay volunteers, working in the pit crew, selling at concession stands, and sponsoring events.
“Derek and April have always been involved with the band, giving of their time and efforts in every way imaginable…and now, unimaginable,” said Cindy Craft, Owasso Band Director.
While chaperoning a band trip Greer met band member Yennifer Gutierrez. He noticed she was ill and later learned she was battling lupus, an autoimmune condition that greatly impacted her life. While the two didn’t develop a close relationship at that time Derek didn’t forget her.
In 2011, he ran across a Facebook page Gutierrez created seeking help to find a kidney donor. Lupus had attacked her kidneys, leading her to dialysis to stay alive. Moved by a childhood friend who had received a life- saving kidney donation, Derek jumped into action, going through the initial tests and screenings to learn if he was a match.
“It came as no surprise when we heard Derek had volunteered to donate his kidney to help save Yennifer’s life,” said Owasso Band Patrons Club co-presidents Pam & Rob Braisted.
But his generosity alone wasn’t enough. He wasn’t a match.
Despite the setback he was still determined to help, agreeing to join the Paired-Donation registry with Gutierrez. This program lists a willing donor and recipient together to be matched with another incompatible pair. His quick and selfless decision to join the registry led to the kidney she needed.
In 2014, Greer and Gutierrez were notified they were compatible with a Texas pair. Despite the fact Greer had undergone shoulder surgery in the months prior, complete with a scary moment of recovery when he momentarily stopped breathing during rehabilitation, he returned to the hospital with Gutierrez.
They underwent the transplant process in the summer of 2014. Gutierrez received the kidney of Texas band mom Susan Clark, while Greer’s kidney was donated to a man in Texas. Theirs was the first paired kidney donation surgery for the state of Oklahoma. Although The transplant programs at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth have together performed nearly 3,000 kidney transplants since the kidney transplant program began in 1985, theirs was the first paired kidney donation surgery that Baylor performed.
The surgeries were a success, with Yennifer so far making great progress with her new kidney Susie, which she named after her donor.
Despite Greer’s own recovery period, he didn’t miss a beat with a band.
“Derek is on the mend and right back to work with the Pride of Owasso,” said Ammie Sullivent, a Owasso Band Patrons member who also nominated him for the award.
As an engineer his skillset has been well utilized by the band through the years.
“He has created innovative designs for much of our equipment and has spent countless hours constructing them,” said David Gorham, Owasso High School’s retired band director.
The Greers participation as band boosters hasn’t waivered. Their son and daughter Natalie graduated from the program, and daughter Noelle is currently a member.
“It takes a special kind of compassion and patience to be with one activity for almost ten years, but the Greers have never shown any sign of regret in their involvement. Their efforts are truly inspiring,” said Maggie Matheny, Student Band Council President.
“The dedication Mr. Greer has provided to the stakeholders of the Owasso Band program has raised everyone to the next level of musicianship, success, and humanity,” said Chris Barber, Associate Director of the Owasso High School Band.” For lack of better words, Mr. Greer is the Batman of band parents, always waiting for the beacon.”
Even in talks of nomination for this award Mr. Greer remained humble.“Derek expressed his hope that it would be a great way to raise awareness for paired donation, leading to more donor matches,” said Shawn O’Kelley, Assistant Director of Bands at Owasso High School.
But his participation in just one match will be felt for a lifetime by Gutierrez.
“Derek Greer is an amazing man,” she wrote on her Facebook page following the transplant. “It’s because of his choice to stick with me for the past three years, that I have received my Gift of Life.”