INSPIRED: Lanett marching band student, who is legally blind, guided by friendship

Local News

Lanett, Ala. (WRBL) – Sometimes a magical moment happens under those “Friday Night Lights,” and it has nothing to do with high school football. News 3 is profiling two Lanett High School band members who are in perfect harmony when it comes to friendship. One student is legally blind, so the other acts as his guiding hand.

Step by step, in perfect cadence. 7th grader LaTae Benton and his 8th-grade guide, Makayla Floyd are inspiring a community. LaTae, who’s legally blind due to congenital glaucoma, played his trombone with Lanett High Schools Golden Panther’s Marching Band as Makayla’s guiding hand rested on his shoulder.

“Back in band camp, we knew we would need a little help.  One of my band boosters said she had the perfect child in mind. The way Makayla works with LaTaye and the way he works with her is special.  I couldn’t ask for any better kids,” explained band teacher, Leslie Dyson.

“She teaches me how to march and get in the right place, the correct place,” said Benton.

Makayla tells News 3 she enjoys marching alongside LaTae. She thinks he’s funny, kind and knows they will be friends for a long time. When asked why she volunteered to help out, her answer is just perfect.

“My heart inspired me to do it,” she said.

Lanett band teacher, Leslie Dyson has known LaTae since he was a kindergartner. He can play multiple instruments and has always looked forward to marching in the band.

“I love LaTae.  I have had him since he was a kindergartner and has loved music since I have known him. He is a very talented young boy; he doesn’t let anything stop him. He has great tenacity and a love for life that can not be stopped,” said Dyson.

During the halftime show LaTae’s mom, LaShonda Denton, sat in the stands crying and her tears of joy haven’t stopped.

“I’m so proud of LaTae for the road he has overcome.  I’m just so thankful.  I can’t help crying; I am just so proud of him. Thank the Lord for Makayla. It takes a lot of patience to help as she does. You have to have a big heart for that, ” LaShonda Denton said.

Dyson says Makayla is born leader. She works on the sets and learns the drill even if LaTae isn’t in class.  

“I don’t have to ask her to do anything. She is one of the hardest working children I have ever met. She will be a blessing to anyone who knows her,” said Dyson.

Off the field, both LaTae and Makayla have found a tribe of friends within the Golden Panthers. A

“Our band is a family, and nobody is left behind. We take care of our own,” explained Dyson.

Dyson believes LaTae and Makayla’s friendship illustrates a life lesson she hopes her students will remember and practice long after the music stops.

“I love that they love the band. I love that they love music. But at the end of the day, I want them to be good people,” she said.

LaTae and Makyla are already practicing that lesson for the crowds to see, every Friday night.

*Special thanks to Hunter Ames for sharing cell phone video of Friday’s Golden Panthers Marching Band performance with News 3. 

INSPIRED: Lanett student, who is legally blind, guided by friendship on the field

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