Disabled Teen Finds His Rhythm in Drums

Disabled Teen Finds His Rhythm in Drums

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Shelley Osterloh ReportingSometimes it takes time for a young person, or even an adult to discover what it is they are passionate about. Shelley Osterloh introduces us a teenager who has always known what he loves to do, and he's now found a friend to help him on his journey of discovery.

14-year old Assad Mihitawi was born with spina bifida and has been blind since he was four. His parents say he used to be quiet and withdrawn, but once he discovered drums everything changed.

Assad says since he can remember he was always tapping on something, but two years ago Keith Guernsey -- a percussionist with the Utah Symphony-- visited Assad's school. He spotted the boy's remarkable talent and started teaching him. He says now they teach each other.

Keith Guernsey, Utah Symphony Percussionist: "He's got a tremendous imagination and creativity musically. A lot of things when we are just playing, jamming together, I'll think, ‘How does it do that? I wish I could do that.’"

His family came to Salt Lake from Venezuela eight years ago to get treatment at Primary Children's Hospital. His parents say when he was little Assad used to ask why he couldn't walk or see, but when he started playing the drums those disabilities didn't matter.

Marvis Mihitawi, Assad's Mother: "Now he is more friendly, he not shy anymore."

Samir Mihitawi, Assad's Father: "Whatever he wants, he can do, you know."

Assad says the drums are a great way to work out frustration or express joy, but mostly he wants to share his passion for Latin rhythm with others.

Assad Mihitawi: "I just want to make my own orchestra, like a salsa band, like all the latin rhythms. I want my own band to play in all the clubs and stuff."

Assad has already performed with the Utah Symphony at a Lollipops concert, and the symphony bought a Congo drum for him.

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