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DECATUR – More than 350 members of the Holy Family Catholic Church family will descend on Busch Stadium today to support the Holy Family School band as they play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 7 p.m. game.

The students will all be wearing red T-shirts emblazoned “Carter” and the number 33 in honor of Adam Carter, who was a student at Holy Family.

He was a devoted St. Louis Cardinals fan and his football number was 33. Adam died in 2010 after a brave battle with cancer and is remembered fondly at Holy Family in a number of ways, from a tree planted in his memory to a special reading nook in the school library.

“We're going to have some that are coming into sixth grade playing and some that have graduated,” said Hannah Hollis, a seventh-grader. “We practiced really hard for it all year, and we've practiced three times so far this summer and we're practicing one more time. We're working on memorizing it.”

One of the tough things for these young musicians, said Rachel Smith, is that they not only have to memorize it and stand to play when they're used to sitting, but it sounds completely different outdoors.

That's why their summer practices with band teacher Christine Smith have been outdoors. But there's also the crowd factor. They know they'll be on the field with the stands packed full of a few thousand Cardinals fans, with lights and TV cameras on them. It's a bit nervewracking.

It's also exciting.

“This is the highlight of my whole year,” Rachel said.

Students sold tickets to family and friends for a chance to go down on the field before the game and watch batting practice and meet players, and everyone knew ahead of time that the Rev. Joe Molloy, pastor of Holy Family, was going to be on the field, too. The students like to laugh about his love for the Cardinals, and his team jacket, but it's affectionate on their part.

“I'm sure we're going to do good,” Rachel said. “But just the fact that we're going to go play it at a professional baseball game amazes me, that we have this opportunity.”

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