Destiny shows us what’s possible

February 3, 2024

“Destiny has Cerebral Palsy. Doctors said she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk. For a long time, she didn’t. Now she’s marching and playing the drum in Mardi Gras parades with the Magnolia Breeze Youth Ensemble. These parades are everything to Destiny. She doesn’t verbally express much, but she loves playing drums.  We have pictures of her beating on a drum at four years old. She never stopped.

I had Destiny at only 20 weeks. She weighed one pound, five ounces. She came home from the hospital on a heart monitor and feeding tubes. She had a 24-hour nurse. She was so fragile. I was afraid to touch her. She’s been in and out of the hospital much of her life. Destiny turns 19 at the end of January. Our first daughter was born with an extreme seizure disorder and terminal illness. She died at two years old.

Destiny’s older brother started playing in a youth band. She wanted to join and be like him. We were skeptical, but she loved it. There was discrimination against Destiny being in a wheelchair, so we left the band. LaDarral Bell was the drum instructor–she quit and started her own band to include Destiny and all kids. Magnolia Breeze Youth Ensemble began ten years ago. 

Destiny first played the cymbals from her wheelchair. I pushed her in the parades. She moved from cymbals to a smaller tenor drum, tuning it to play like a bass. She plays by ear and knows every part. Chico, the drummer from Mobile, has a heart for Destiny. He wanted to build something on her wheelchair to hold her drum. He never got the chance because Destiny learned to walk. Now she walks the whole parade playing her drum. People stop me and ask, ‘Where’s Destiny? The one in the wheelchair?’  I point to her marching. There she goes. They’re in awe of that. 

It’s amazing to be a part of this band and see these kids find a place. Destiny always pushed herself to do more. She was a cheerleader at school and ran the 50-meter run in the Special Olympics. Now she bowls in the special needs bowling league. I’m a coach for that. 

Destiny graduated from Davidson High School last year. We’re working on her being more independent. There aren’t many options after high school for people with special needs in Mobile. There has to be more than sitting at home and playing on the phone all of the time. Destiny loves to draw. She’s into drawing Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokemon, and the Lion King. I’m trying to find an art class that will work with her. She also wants to become a gamer, but the gaming PC costs too much. 

We’ve gone through a lot, but we keep going with family and prayer. I’ve been a server at Waffle House for over three years. My husband works there, too. I was working the overnight shift one night when an average-looking guy walked in. I went over to take his order. He pulled out a gun, shot at the ceiling, and said ‘Talk to the cook. Give me the money.’ My coworker and I ducked to the floor and ran out the back door. I had flashbacks to 2013. I was sitting in a car in my yard and got shot. All I heard was ‘Get out of the car.’ I started seeing blood. I was shot in my back. The bullet pierced my lung and came out of my chest. I’m lucky to be here.

We are lucky Destiny is still here, too. She has taught me how to care for people with special needs. Our family has a lot of love, and we fight for one another. Destiny shows us what’s possible.”

JaLonna and Destiny 


Our Southern Souls is helping the Magnolia Breeze Youth Ensemble travel to Universal Studios and march in a parade. If you would like to help the kids get to Universal, here’s how to donate.

Pay Pal:

Or send a donation to PO Box 161398 Mobile, AL 36606


1 Comment

  1. Brenda

    Congratulations to Destiny. Great job Jalonna and Leonard keep up the good work. may God continue to Destiny on her journey through life


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