Jerry Dean, better known as J.D., is a dedicated volunteer with the Decorah High School Band. He focuses on the drumline.
"He's not only a drumline teacher, he's a mentor, he's an excellent role model for everyone on the drumline," said student Micheal Foster.
J.D.'s father was a band instructor and a drummer. J.D. started playing drums around age four.
Since moving to the Decorah area, he's helped out at various schools. He's been at Decorah High School for about seven years.
This year, the high school marching band is performing music of Stevie Wonder. J.D. wrote all the drumline music and came up with the choreography.
"He's here all the time. Either writing drills, giving lessons, practices before school, after school, game nights. Sometimes he's here more than I am," said band director Jim Fritz.
Fritz said J.D.'s passion for music has rubbed off on the students. As well as his perseverance. In the fall of 2010, J.D. was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.
"That spread to my liver, two major surgeries, four rounds of chemo, three rounds of radiation, then the cancer had spread to my lungs," said Jerry Dean.
Through it all, J.D. continued to volunteer with the band. Spending even more time at the school when he stopped working because of the cancer.
"It's rehabilitation for me. Besides prayers and family and friends, I think working with these kids has kept me going," said J.D.
J.D. is still fighting and keeping a positive attitude.
"There aren't enough words to say thanks. He's an important part of this band," said Jim Fritz.
Besides marching band, J.D. also works with percussion for solo and ensemble contest. Previously, the band had about eight percussion entries. Thanks to J.D., those entries are up to 30.
J.D. said he has a simple motto for the students.
"Have fun and be good," he said.
The drumline at Decorah High School is very good, thanks to J.D.
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