Band wins $25,000

Friday, January 6, 2012
Photo by Clint Confehr Marshall County High School Band drummer Austin Lee, 15, of Paradise Drive, smiles while wearing a band uniform hat that displays a new shade of blue for the band's uniforms. It's on the right side of the hat.

From staff reports

The Marshall County High School Band is to receive $25,000 from the Pepsi Cola Co. because the band leader's appeal for a corporate grant attracted enough votes on an Internet Web site to qualify for an award of that much money.

"I got a phone call Monday from Global Giving, the ones who are handling the Pepsi Grant Program," Band Director Alex Sears said Tuesday. "They congratulated us for our voting and I'm in the process of filling out paperwork to confirm our project.

"We should get our money at the end of the month," Sears said.

The band needs new uniforms because old uniforms must be dry cleaned, have a design with too much black and not enough of the school's colors, were not maintained and the band has more musicians so there's a lack of uniforms.

The Pepsi Refresh Project was found by MCHS Band Boosters treasurer Jenny Jones who was searching the Internet last fall for ideas on how to raise money. Dec. 1, the company notified the band director that what he proposed had been selected for the contest. There was a race to electronically file votes and the band here qualified for an award.

Votes were cast by e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and cell phone. At first, Sears thought voting would end at 12:01 a.m. New Years Day, but he said, "Because of the New Year's Holiday, they decided to scoot the deadline up to the 30th at midnight."

There were several categories based on the amount of money requested.

"We placed 15th in the category" that resulted on a number of $25,000 awards, the band director said.

He was notified by e-mail on the afternoon of Dec. 31 that the band qualified for the money.

"They will be mailing it to my P.O. Box," Sears said. "It will be coming on a debit card and I've got to figure out how to get that money into the booster account. It is made out to me because I applied as an individual instead of going through all the hoops as a school.

At the end of the month, after he gets the card, he will give it to the band boosters who will buy the new uniforms.

Sears and others with the band here don't know how many votes their uniform appeal received, but how they did it may be more interesting than the actual number.

Drummer Austin Lee, 15, of Paradise Drive, says he voted three times a day. Sears said he voted four times each day: Once each on his two e-mail addresses, and by his cell phone and Facebook account.

The drummer's father, Danny, said more than a dozen votes were filed daily from those in his house and people working for his wife's business in Nashville and India were voting. Fliers were distributed at fast food restaurants, and it seems that no contact was spared the request.

MCHS Spanish teacher Colin Beatty, assistant band director, had his "buddies in the Army

sending e-mails. Some are retired. Some are still in. People all over the world were voting, he said.

He, the Lees and Sears said at least two Titans football players, Colin McCarthy and Damian Williams, voted for the band's uniforms. The Nashville Predators' goalie and announcer were also voting for the band, they said.

"We'll be sending a lot of hand-written thank you letters," Sears said, adding that the band placed 15th out of 220 groups or causes in the category competing for awards of $25,000.