MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — Few sounds are as distinct as a marching band—the power of the drumline combines with the deep sound of the tuba and the grace of the flute. Multiple instruments harmonize for each melody.

Yet there's a student in the Rancho Verde High School Color Guard who only hears one sound—silence. Leslie Gomez is completely deaf and stays in step with the rest of the band.

She’s been flying the flags for four years and says it was really hard at first to learn.


“My old coach had to teach me and I had to figure out how the flag worked, and she had to show me my hand movements,” Gomez said. “Then my sister was also in color guard and she taught me a little at home and now I understand.”

She counts out each beat to stay in step. While everyone else is looking forward for direction, Leslie looks to the side where her interpreter Carrie Ann is in sync with the music and signing the steps.

There are actually two students on the squad who are receiving direction. Mariana Corona is hard of hearing and can’t always hear all the music.

Both girls represent people of all abilities, proving they can perform on Colorado Boulevard just like anyone else. They’ve formed a friendship. 

"When the interpreter is not here I feel more comfortable being able to talk to Leslie,” Corona said. “I have a friend to talk to and chat with.”

The band is full of talented people marching to their own beat and representing people who aren’t always seen.

The Rancho Verde Crimson Regiment is the first band from Moreno Valley to perform in the Rose Parade.

Their leader Honglac Hathuc is the first Vietnamese American band director to bring a band to the Rose Parade. He’s proud but most proud of his students, who he calls his kids.

“I believe every student should have an opportunity to perform and play…and be part of something bigger than themselves,” Hathuc said. “I think it’s great.”

Gomez admits staying on beat is a big task, and it takes a lot of work. But she says it’s worth it because the Rose Parade is big and so important as she represents herself, Moreno Valley, and other deaf performers on an international stage.