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Different Drummers' Hero Wants To Heal The World's Hurts (And Battle ADHD)
Different Drummers' Hero Wants To Heal The World's Hurts (And Battle ADHD)

Different Drummers' Hero Wants To Heal The World's Hurts (And Battle ADHD)

By Jacob Sahms

Different Drummers is a spectacularly innocent tale of friendship between two young boys and the way that each of them is changed by the other’s love. One of the boys has ADHD; the other is bound to a wheelchair by muscular dystrophy, a death sentence in the mid-1960s. ChristianCinema.com caught up with Lyle Hatcher, the sixty-year-old man who was once one of those young boys and now loves to tell that story.

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“My parents say I’ve been telling the story since three months after David died,” Hatcher began. “So many people asked me to tell the story that I was encouraged to record it. I always told it in the third person because I never really thought the story was about me, but it was about the impact David had on me.”

“When I was done recording it, the producer Don Caron came out and asked me if I was one of the boys. He asked me if it was a true story or if it was somehow manipulated or fabricated, and I assured him it was not.”

The collaboration between Hatcher and Caron has taken them along this eleven-year path to the finished product that is Different Drummers. In the process, Hatcher gained an adopted grandson, Brayden Tucker (who plays Hatcher in the film), and an awareness that his film gives him a platform to speak into the lives of thousands of people.

“We thought we were telling a story about friendship and faith. What did it mean to be a friend?” Hatcher said. “But the last year has been all about Ritalin.”

In a pivotal scene, Hatcher’s onscreen mother must make a decision about whether or not she will continue to medicate her son. Some school officials insist that she must if her son is to stay in school; others point out that it makes him behave more like a zombie.

“Because of the film, I’ve spoken to the national autism conference in Detroit,” Hatcher told me. “There have been great conversations after showings in theaters and in schools. Some of the schools said we couldn’t show it in Spokane because it mentioned God, but then they would watch it and ask me to come and show the film.”

“The manager of the local AMC came and told me that they had a problem: people wouldn’t leave the theater. So they started building in an additional fifteen minutes after each showing because people wanted to talk about it,” Hatcher said.

Different Drummers is healing a lot of hearts,” he continued. “We showed it at a school and they called me back to continue the conversation. Principals were concerned that their kids would say they didn’t want to be on medicine any more but after watching it, they said everyone who cares about a kid should see it.”

Kids in schools cheered when Hatcher’s mother stood up for him; they raved when Hatcher and David went on adventures, even though Hatcher admitted to me that they didn’t always end well.

The response has been nearly overwhelming. Hatcher told me that his wife asks him sometimes if he can’t wear a hat and sunglasses when they go out, because people approach him around town to tell him how the film moved them. But he has a simple response: “Honey, the world is hurting. It’s never hurt so much. Somehow, this gives people hope. If people would get out of the way, it could reach millions.”

Hatcher told me that he asked an interviewer for In Health magazine if she had ever seen Earth in a more desperate need. He told her, “If you’re going to fix this, you need an array of doers, an army of energy. Do you know where they are? We need to get this out there.”

For Hatcher, it’s definitely more movement than simple entertainment. One of his anecdotes clearly stood out even more than the others, “I presented at a little grade school, and I asked the students what the film was about. Only one kid named Robbie didn’t raise his hand so I called on him. ‘What do you think it’s about?’ I asked him. He told me it was about friendship and that he would do whatever it took for a friend.”

“The principal called me the next day, and told me that Robbie was bullied, beat up, and even neglected at home. But his life had changed because I called on him, and now he had more friends than he knew what to do with.”

Different Drummers is about Ritalin, and multiple schlerosis, but it’s also about how the friendship of David brought Hatcher to faith in Jesus Christ. David stood up to his disease, and to bullies; he showed Hatcher how to fight for what was right.

“There are times you have to stand in and fight for what’s right,” Hatcher said. “I was about to give up until the weakest person I knew came in and threw a punch.”

To tell this story, to get David’s story to the big screen, Hatcher has painted an elementary school himself, taught a neighbor’s dog to act, captured more than thirty spiders including recluse, brown, box, cat, garden, and two huge black widows, and spent most of his savings. But through it all, his enthusiasm never waned, based on the conviction of this story about friendship, faith, and the power of the few to change the perspective of the many.


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