The only thing Jamal knew about drumming before coming to Bonnie Brae was that “drumming” was a verb. However, on a very cold January 20, 2009, Jamal proudly grabbed his sticks and held his head high as he marched as a Bonnie Brae Knight in President Obama’s Inaugural Parade; an experience and a memory he will carry with him for the rest of his life. All because Bonnie Brae introduced him to the drums.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime and it transformed these young men’s lives, giving each of them hope for their future.
The Bonnie Brae Knights were one of only 90 bands selected, from an applicant pool of approximately 1,400, to march in President Obama’s Inaugural Parade. Knowing President-Elect Obama’s campaign theme was “hope” and “change”, Bonnie Brae CEO at the time, Bill Powers, sent in an application for our Knights to march, thinking they were the perfect match to this theme. After all, Bonnie Brae’s mission is all about hope and change. Bill was incredibly hopeful that our Knights would be selected.
When the news of their selection was heard, in one fell swoop the Knights went from an unknown group of novice drummers to the toast of New Jersey. The community rallied around the boys at an unprecedented level, donating instruments, equipment and uniforms to ensure the success of the Knights in the parade.
The Bonnie Brae Knights were covered by CBS and ABC in relation to the Presidential Inauguration.
It was an experience they will never forget. Since then, the Corps has played on, helping boys overcome shyness and build self-esteem. It has given them a sense of what it means to belong to a group and to be held accountable to a team; and of course, the pride that comes with hard work and a job well done. Since marching in the inaugural parade, the Bonnie Brae Knights have played at Bonnie Brae events such as the Tartan Ball and Tartan Classic, the Strawberry Festival in Virginia, national conferences, local parades, Tour de Cure, and Red Bandanna Day at Provident Bank Stadium.
Accredited by the Joint Commission, Bonnie Brae is one of the nation’s preeminent residential treatment centers for at-risk adolescent boys who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. We provide a safe place for boys and young men in crisis, ages 8-21, a place for them to heal, to learn and to grow. We have helped over 10,000 boys and families since our founding in 1916. Please contact us today to learn how you can make a positive difference in a young man’s life.
3415 Valley Road, PO Box 825, Liberty Corner, NJ 07938-0825 Directions