On Saturday, August 17th, the town of Westmont was invaded by over 50 kilted sons and daughters of the Isle, performing traditional Scottish music on bagpipes and drums. They were preceeded in their march by Mayor Ronald Gunter, a firetruck, multiple police vehicles, and a representative of the U.S. Marines. Members of several Chicago-area bagpipe bands had volunteered their time in order to show support and bring cheer to a 14-year-old Westmont girl, Emily Wheeler, who has been stricken by cancer. The parade of tartans and local officials was followed by countless friends and neighbors of Emily, all of them wearing red-white-and-blue ribbons to show their support and prayers for her quick recovery.
The event was organized by Bill Peterson and Joe Coakley, both members of the Midwest Pipe Band Association. They put out a general call to other members of the organization for volunteers, and were surprised by the large outpouring of support and effort in their piping community. Over 50 pipers, drummers, and dancers showed up in full regalia to perform for Emily. The various band members were united under a new name, with a banner made especially for the occasion which read “The Emily Wheeler Pipe Band”.
Peterson commented how pleased he was with the help and response he and others in his organization received from the local police and the Mayor’s office, who all rushed through permits and other paperwork in order to make sure the event happened quickly and smoothly, in addition to volunteering their own time and resources.
The parade of tartans and friends began midway on Independence Avenue, and ended in front of Emily’s home. Once there, a group of kilted young ladies performed traditional Scottish dances—accompanied by a costumed “Nessie”, the Lock Ness Monster. Family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers cheered and wished Emily well and a speedy recovery.
Myself and other members of “The Emily Wheeler Pipe Band” wish to thank Bill Peterson, Joe Coakley, Mayor Gunter, the Westmont Police Department, Emily’s friends and neighbors, and our fellow members of the Midwest Pipe Band Association who came to play music for a sick girl on her special sunny day—as well as all the other countless people who volunteered their time and effort to make the day happen.