BY SABRINA BATES
MARTIN (December 1) – What started out as a bit of a hurdle for the members of the Westview High School Marching Band turned into a community effort that sent them to Chattanooga over the weekend.
After the Westview Charger football team secured a slot to compete for the TSSAA Class 2A state title, band members learned it would be a budget-breaking expense to get the band, color guard and instruments to East Tennessee. A charter bus would cost nearly $5,200 and with little time to raise the funds, it looked as if the band would stay behind in Martin to cheer on the team from home. For 14 games, in rain, cold temperatures and late nights, members of the WHS band were a part of football action every Friday night, belting out pep music from the stands and taking the field at halftimes with their Gotham City-inspired show.
During the pep rally held at Westview November 19, the members of the Charger football team handed out sweet treats to band members and dubbed them the football team’s “12th Man.” The Chargers cinched the final playoff slot November 26 and would be Chattanooga-bound the next week for the big dance.
Band members, excited for the team to make it to the playoffs, had mixed feelings when they discovered there just wasn’t enough in the fund balance to make the trip to cheer on the Chargers in their final game of the season. It was that bit of disappointment that led to a social media post by a band parent on Monday, November 29.
“I made a simple post on that evening (Monday) asking who else was disappointed that the band wasn’t going, and I received several offers of donations,” Jennifer Galey noted. Her daughter, Addison, is a freshman clarinet player. After reaching out to band director Mike Tucker on Tuesday, he informed her of the obstacles facing them to get the large group to Saturday’s game. Galey let everyone know on Facebook that Tuesday evening that it would be too expensive to get the band to the game.
“Weakley County Schools provides assistance for coaches and facilities but have traditionally relied on community support to help with club and athletic activities. We are grateful to booster clubs and all other sources of funding for enrichment opportunities for their continuing partnership with us,” Weakley County Schools Communications Director Karen Campbell noted when asked by The Enterprise why the School System doesn’t foot the bill for such ventures.
On Wednesday, December 1, around 8 a.m. Dr. Sue Miller started reaching out for contact numbers, including Tucker’s and Jessie Newsome of the Band Boosters, looking for a green light to launch a fundraising campaign. Dr. Miller was Galey’s former Emergency Room Medical Director at the Martin hospital. Although Miller has no children associated with the band, she and her husband, who is also a physician, had been supportive of Addison’s fundraising campaign for Westview Band.
Shortly before 9 a.m. that Wednesday, a decision was made to move forward, with Galey posting a request for donations on her Facebook page and Dr. Miller knocking on the doors of downtown businesses to help get the band to Chattanooga. The social media post gained traction while Dr. Miller was collecting donations from Martin business owners.
By 11:30 that morning, around $3,800 had been raised. And by 1 p.m., the fundraising effort exceeded the $5,200 needed to cover the cost of a charter bus and driver for the band to head to Chattanooga.
“I would like to publicly announce and thank the local businesses that played a huge part in this. … Dr. Miller jumped into action early this morning and got the ball rolling. She went door to door downtown asking for donations for the band – she isn’t even a band parent! Way to show up and show out, everyone,” Galey noted on her Facebook page Wednesday.
“I didn’t even get to all the businesses in Martin in person before we met our goal! I had numerous private citizens hand me cash and tell me about when they were in the band as a child or their family who was in the band or they had had family who worked as band directors. Thank you, the generosity was overwhelming! I know these band kids and their parents and band leader really appreciate it,” Dr. Miller shared on Facebook.
There were many donations from individuals, dropped off at the Martin Public Library and Westview High School, as well as sent via PayPal and VenMo. These are the businesses and organizations that donated to get the Westview Band to Saturday’s game in Chattanooga:
American Roofing Softwash – KB and Amber Bell
The Charger Foundation
Westview High School Booster Club
Weakley County Motors
Taylor’s Union City Ford
The Joey Guest Foundation
Blackberry Pond Farm – Dr. Sue Davenport Miller
Alexander, Thompson & Arnold
Unger and Godwin
Vowell and Sons
Weakley County Farm Bureau
State Farm Insurance
H & R Block.
Thanks to the above-mentioned businesses and organizations, the band members hopped a charter bus about 6:45 Saturday morning after a quick breakfast, stopped along the way for a picnic lunch, made it to Finley Stadium where they donned their uniforms and sat in the stands filling the air with shouts and pep music. The band was also chosen to play the National Anthem prior to kickoff for the state championship game. They celebrated with the team, loaded up bound for home, grabbed a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant and rolled in at Westview about 11 p.m. with the football team, cheerleaders and community members who made the trek to watch the Chargers knock down the door in Chattanooga. This was the team’s first state championship win.