Anthony Wild and Joël Rice display the flag. Courtesy photo.
Palm Coast Observer
Palm Coast resident Anthony Wild has been providing the gift of music to kids around the nation for eight years. Now the nation has given back.
Thanks to the efforts of former Congressional staffer Joëlle Rice, an American flag flew over the United States Capitol in honor of Wild, the founder and executive director of Kids Rock the Nation.
The non-profit has provided over 1,500 musical instruments to hundreds of children and schools locally and around the nation.
“We feel music is healing,” said Wild, a professional musician. “It gives kids a purpose. It's a great way to express your feelings in a positive form.”
“We feel music is healing. It gives kids a purpose. It's a great way to express your feelings in a positive form.”
In the past two weeks, Kids Rock the Nation has donated instruments to Mainland High School in Daytona Beach and Union Ridge Elementary School in Ridgefield, Washington. More instruments are headed to Plattsburgh, New York, by the end of the month, Wild said.
Many of the recipients over the years have gone on to have professional music careers.
Wild started Kids Rock the Nation in honor of a doctor who treated him for cancer and saved his life. The organization began by giving away guitars. Then it moved on to include other instruments — even a baby grand piano.
Rice, a friend of Wild's, was so impressed by his story, she felt he should receive some recognition.
“What he's done is remarkable,” she said.
Rice worked in the Capitol for 34 years before retiring with her husband to Palm Coast in 2001. She started her career as an aide to a California congressman and then became a bill clerk on the podium of the House Chamber.
Finally, she was appointed an assistant manager in the House Republican Cloakroom. The cloakrooms are the nerve centers for the House and Senate. Rice was the first woman to be appointed to such a post by either party.
She sought a Congressional commendation for Wild. Ernie Audino, the district director for U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, offered to have the flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in Wild's honor.
When Rice presented the flag and read the accompanying certification to Wild during the Kids Rock the Nation's annual fundraising concert in December at the Bank & Blues Club in Daytona, Wild almost cried.
“I'm pretty humble about it,” Wild said of his organization. “There are so many more kids who need help, so much more work to do. We've just scratched the surface.”