Pictured, from left, are WAMSB band ambassador Kevin Nicholson, Wood & Brass Band Director Krzysztof Sypien and several band members. / Photo by Lily Hicks

Lost luggage ordeal leads Polish band, local ambassador to forge cherished memories

BUCKHANNON – In a world that often seems filled with challenges and uncertainties, there are moments of inspiration that remind us of the incredible power of human kindness and the strength that comes from unity.

One such heartwarming story unfolded last week when the Wood & Brass Band from Poland faced an unexpected setback during their trip to Buckhannon to compete in the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Championships.

The band members were thrilled to be a part of the grand event in West Virginia, but their excitement was dampened when they arrived and realized their luggage and instruments were missing. The shock of the situation could have been disheartening, but the band chose to remain positive and hopeful, determined to make the best of the situation.

“For the last year, all we have thought about was this event,” said Wood & Brass Band Director Krzysztof Sypien. “After preparing to be here and preparing to compete for a very long time, to get to the final destination and realize we had almost none of our luggage or instruments was a very big shock.”

Amidst the confusion, the band found a silver lining in the form of Kevin Nicholson, their band ambassador, who was tasked with assisting them throughout their stay. Nicholson and other band ambassadors started making phone calls, and one even posted a call-out on social media. In a display of camaraderie, the community rallied around the band. West Virginia Wesleyan College – as well as Buckhannon-Upshur High School and surrounding colleges and high schools — generously provided the musicians with their much-needed equipment.

Though the band faced a logistical challenge, they refused to be deterred, Nicholson said.

“The band’s unwavering spirit and commitment to their performances was impressive,” he said. “I will never forget their spirit and their humble hearts. I hope that the band knows they have made a lasting impact on me and our community, just as Buckhannon has made a lasting impact on them.”

Even without all their sheet music, due to a printer error, they decided to perform pieces they knew by heart at one of the week’s events, including an electrifying rendition of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” The crowd joined in, clapping along, adding to the energy of the moment.

“We had everything we needed,” continued Director Sypien. “We have been warmly welcomed here and feel that you all really and deeply appreciate and care about us. Like family, you know ?”

The community of Buckhannon showcased the true essence of humanity – caring for strangers as if they were family, leaving a lasting impact on the band members who were touched by their warmth. The parents of the band members expressed their gratitude via a note to Nicholson posted on social media Tuesday in which they issued an invite to Poland.

“Dear people of Buckhannon: Thanks to your help, our children were able to fulfill their dreams and take part in the competition, despite the difficulties,” the letter reads. “We also want to thank their guardian, Kevin; you will stay in our hearts. We hope to meet again, and we would like to invite you to Poland.”

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