Meet one of our favorite people and volunteer; Del Owens of Denver, CO. Anyone who’s been around our camps for more than a couple of hours has certainly seen Del.

Many people will give in to the phrase “I’m too old” for that. However, Del’s 84-year young spirit will not keep him from being involved. He loves our programs, but more importantly he loves the members. He is a great friend of ours and so was his beloved wife Dinah, who left us too soon. They supported our Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps and our Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble for decades. It is inspiring that “they” continue to believe in, and support, our members. A “Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship” fund helps several members with a significant portion of their fees each year. See the Colorado Gives Day details below on how you can help make that possible for yet another year.

Let’s move back in the timeline a bit and find out how Del connected with us. Del explains, “In the late ‘70s a friend, knowing of my musical background, invited me to a marching music event, Drums Along the Rockies (DATR) at Jefferson County Stadium. Then in the late ‘80s, Dinah and I were driving around the old Mile High Stadium and came upon the Blue Knights rehearsing under the Colfax viaduct. Talking with one of the guard members during a water break, she let us know DATR was the next weekend. Bless her. We attended and were hooked.

Del and Dinah
A blast from the past – Del and Dinah enjoying their time as the Merchandise Team.

These chance events led to more than 20 years of involvement with Ascend’s programs. First, as a donor – through the retail stores he and Dinah owned they found satisfaction providing financial gifts when they could. Del then found his way into a multitude of volunteer roles. The list is long and continues to grow. From making corps camp airport shuttle runs; preparing, maintaining and driving props to percussion ensemble events; working registration and food service at camps; shako fitting and maintenance; merchandise preparation and sales with Dinah (the Merchandise Coordinator); and serving on the Booster Board and DATR committee and on the Friendship Cup Marching Band Competition staff.

It’s not a surprise to know that as a hardworking and loyal volunteer, Del was recognized for his efforts with the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble’s 2001 Director’s Award and as the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps’ Outstanding Volunteer in 2002. Del states, “certainly, these awards were greatly appreciated and cherished to this day. But the real reward comes when a member passing through the food line says ‘thank you’. That’s when you really know your effort has been worthwhile.”

Del finds it very rewarding to be associated with Ascend Performing Arts and the musical education it provides. He’s “been grateful for every opportunity to support an organization involved in youth education”. Del himself was a snare, bass, and tympani percussionist from high school through the United States Air Force and even played tympani professionally.

Volunteers don’t need a music background to be involved. Anyone can. To someone who may be considering filling a volunteer spot, Del says, “Just do it. You won’t be disappointed. The feeling of accomplishment together with the family atmosphere of the Blue Knights will result in an unforgettable experience.” Not to mention doing it for the sound of the “kids saying ‘Thank You!'”.

To that end, we would love to help anyone find their volunteer home with us! Don’t be shy. Give it a try, click here!

On Behalf of Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue Knights – Thank you Del!  Much love to you and continued warm thoughts of Dinah!

Dinah pic
The loving eyes of a loving woman. Your donation to the Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship, or one of our other programs, will share the love for years to come.

In this season of giving, please consider donating to The Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship at this link: HERE

Your contribution will help several deserving performers who are selected through a scholarship application process.  

Several other donation options exist at https://www.coloradogives.org/BlueKnights

∴ Come meet others like him!  We would love for you to volunteer with us and, if you want one, we can help you find your niche with us.  Visit our Volunteer web page at https://ascendperformingarts.org/support/volunteer/ and send us an email to connect. Make our youth your extended family!

∴ Do you have a nomination for a future Spotlight article?  Please email them in to: Volunteer@AscendPerformingArts.org

Volunteer Spotlight by Keith Huffman, Volunteer Coordinator.

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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder