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6-year-old boy with cancer to serve as UofL’s honorary band conductor

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When the University of Louisville takes the field on Saturday against Clemson, the Cardinals will have the support of nearly 65,000 fans and one special guest.

Beckham Goodale, 6, will be honored as the band’s honorary conductor Saturday during the halftime performance. He will help lead the band during the playing of the school’s fight song.

Goodale was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia around Christmas 2020, and ever since, has undergone nearly 10 months of treatment. Erin Goodale, Beckham’s mother, told WAVE 3 News her son has received eight rounds of chemotherapy, receiving the highest dosage allotted for his age group.

Despite his diagnosis, Goodale has remained positive and has earned the nickname “Candyman” among nurses at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute. He made sure to have the nurses’ favorite candy stocked up, as a way to say thank you for their care.

“He said since the beginning, ‘I’m going to kick cancer’s butt,’” Erin Goodale said.

Roughly a month ago, UofL returned Goodale’s kindness by asking him to serve as the honorary conductor. The gesture is part of a partnership between UofL’s School of Music and Norton Children’s Hospital to highlight children diagnosed with pediatric cancer in the Louisville area in an attempt to raise money and awareness for the disease.

“We thought what a better show to really bring this cause to such a huge audience,” Band Director Dr. Amy Acklin said. “And it’s a wonderful thing. We are essentially the billboard to bring awareness to this and to say, ‘Louisville community, we need you to raise money for these young guys.”

To prepare him for Saturday, Acklin and members of the band brought Goodale onto the field Thursday for a trial run, teaching him the commands and the chants, while also allowing him to practice climbing the conductor’s ladder.

“The memories are going to be amazing,” Erin Goodale said. “We haven’t had very many memories, that are good, since his diagnosis. We haven’t done much and seeing him the center of attention, what he loves to do is amazing.”

Kickoff between UofL and Clemson is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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