LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For over 20 years Mom's School of Music has been creating rock stars. The school takes kids ages eight to 18 and puts them in a band.
Every band has a beginning, but when Mark Maxwell put five teens together to form a band he had no idea exactly what the outcome would be. For a two of them and their families it was a life changing journey.
Bass player Sam Stricker recalled his first few months in the band. "I'd be fine for about 15 to 20 minutes and then literally feel like I have no energy," he said.
Maxwell wholehearted agreed, "Sam would consistently be playing his guitar and sit down between songs. It was the same way when I met Sara and heard her sing for the first time. 'I said Sara sing it out!'"
Sara Duncan, like Sam, was a member of the band All the Motions. Sara was the lead vocalist, but Sara and Sam were singing the same tune.
"In gym class I didn't run the mile 'cause I just knew I couldn't do it," Sara said.
"Not being able to breathe, shortness of breath," Sam chimed in explaining the same symptoms as Sara.
Something was wrong with both Sam and Sara. That something was very similar for both of them.
Sam's diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum came first.
"There was a little bit of panic," said Sam's mother, Jennifer Stricker.
It was a sense of panic for the Stricker family, but for Sara there was a sense of relief.
"When I got the text from Sara that said "I think I have that.' I thought 'no, I don't think so but sure I'll talk to your Mom,'" said Jennifer Stricker.
One in every 400 live births comes with the diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum.
"It's a rare chest wall condition," said Dr. Victor Garcia, a surgeon from Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
Pectus Excavatum describes an abnormal formation of the rib cage that gives the chest a caved-in sunken appearance. Not only can it cause physical problems, but the appearance of the chest may cause psychological difficulty for the person affected.
"The breast bone actually dives into the chest not only decreases the volume of the chest but compresses the heart and displaces the heart," said Dr. Garcia.
If it is severe, like Sam's and Sara's condition, it can affect the heart and lungs making everyday life difficult if not dangerous. Both Sam and Sara were fighting hard not just to play, but to breathe. They were fighting as hard as they could for a healthy normal life.
"It was kind of a weird experience like 'hey another person in this band has this condition.' What?" Sam said with a headshake and a small laugh.
Sara said, "Feels like it was meant to be."
Sara's mom, Jennifer Austin, could only agree.
"There are definitely forces out there that put it all together," she said.
The Stricker family was already gathering information which they shared as Sara began her journey to health.
"It is close to a miracle as you can possibly imagine that she would meet Sam, that the mothers would then share information, that this support group kind of came around to helping them both," said Dr. Garcia. "I think it's not just simply coincidence. I think there was a force that brought them together."
Dr. Garcia performed a minimally invasive surgery which placed two stabilizing bars first in Sam's chest and later in Sara's.
Both Sara and Sam are recovering from major surgery. They do have to wear medial identification every day as notification to the public if they need help in the case of an emergency.
The band will perform throughout the summer at local events, but their families will be linked for a lifetime.
To watch for upcoming events where the band will perform, click here.
If you'd like information to move your teenage rock star along in what they love call Mom's School of Music at 1-812-283-3304.