Mighty Melody and her father, Kaleb, continue a family legacy with a touching Band of Angels donation.
Band of Angels was founded in 2010 as a partnership with WDAF-TV Fox 4. Its mission is to collect music instruments and help fund the purchase of music instruments for children in need who want to study music, but whose family financial situations, unfortunately, get in the way of their dreams to join band or orchestra.
Each Meyer Music location (Blue Springs, Overland Park and Kansas City North) accepts musical instrument donations for Band of Angels. Over the years, donors have dropped off instruments that are then lovingly refurbished and donated to local students. Since 80 percent of them are not in working order, technicians repair and clean every instrument. Some of the ones that cannot be restored to playing condition are repurposed into artwork that is auctioned off during the annual Art that Blows event. Somehow, some way, every instrument donated to Band of Angels either helps put instruments into students’ hands or raises funds for summer music camp scholarships. Well over 1,000 instruments have been given to disadvantaged students in 60 school districts within a 100-mile radius of Kansas City.
Some of the instruments are donated because they are collecting dust. And some come to Band of Angels out of love and to continue a legacy that was cut short… like Lois Unger’s.
In July 2015, four-year-old Melody Unger and her father, Kaleb, walked through the doors of Meyer Music’s Kansas City North location. Perhaps you recognize the name Mighty Melody, as that is how she is fondly known throughout the community. Melody came to donate her mother's violin to Band of Angels.
Melody, named for a remark her mother made when hearing the sound of a heartbeat during a sonogram, was born at 23 weeks, weighing only 14 ounces. Her skin was so translucent that her internal organs were visible. Doctors were not optimistic that she would survive. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months as Melody hit various developmental milestones. However, at six months, doctors confirmed that Melody was deaf. Deafness can delay a child’s development and learning, so doctors performed a cochlear implant when Melody was 19 months old followed by the second one two months later. Two weeks after healing, the implants were turned on and Melody heard her first squeaky toy.
Melody’s mother was not able to join in that momentous day. Lois passed away five months after Melody’s birth due to heart problems that the pregnancy made worse.
Lois and Kaleb were a musical couple. Lois played the violin and Kaleb is a drummer with a Christian rock band. Melody’s experience with music began with dancing to the beat of her dad’s drums and picking up the sticks not long afterward. She’s been known to play the guitar, horn, recorder and any other instrument she can get her eager hands on. Now Melody has her own drum kit and keeps pace with her dad. Melody made strides equal to 17 months of development in only seven months of auditory verbal therapy. Today, her hearing tests at 95 percent of normal. Visit Mighty Melody’s Facebook page to see her musical talent in action.
From the squeak of a toy to playing drums and listening to her dad play, music has had a tremendous impact in Melody’s life. She and Kaleb hope that by donating Lois’s violin to Band of Angels that their family’s love of music can extend to a student who would not be able to study music otherwise. And also, that Lois’s violin will continue its musical legacy in the hands of another musician.
As unique and touching as the Ungers’ story is, it is just one that comes along with the band and orchestra instruments donated to Band of Angels. While the Band of Angels website is full of photos of local students with smiles on their faces receiving their first musical instrument or attending summer music camp, everyone involved with and affected by the organization is grateful for those who donate. We are humbled by the stories and history behind the instruments, which only make Band of Angel’s mission even more significant.