Alumni and friends of West Virginia University and the Mountaineer Marching Band are being asked to show their support again for The Pride Travel Fund, established by the WVU Foundation to help defray travel costs for the band.
For Mountaineer fans, the band's pre-game and half-time performances are integral parts of the home football game experience. But taking "The Pride of West Virginia" - as the band is known - on the road can be quite a challenge.
Getting the 380-member band plus staff to away games or events around the state is anything but affordable, said Jay Drury, the band's director.
"While the University and the Athletic Department provide financial support for the band, escalating travel expenses exceed the band's budget," he said. "Simply put, private support from alumni and friends is needed for the band to travel."
He added that buses, hotels and food are the three major travel expenses. The largest being the nine charter buses needed. With the increasing cost of fuel, this year's travel expenses could be at an all time high.
In 2007, the first year of the Pride Travel Fund, over $93,000 was raised--enough money to enable the band to travel to away games at Syracuse and Marshall, and a small pep band made the trip to Cincinnati.
This fall, the band hopes to travel to away games at Connecticut and Pittsburgh, as well as locations around the state and for concerts and exhibition performances.
"We are grateful for the tremendous support given to The Pride Travel Fund last season, and are hopeful we'll get another boost again this year from the campaign," Drury said.
Traveling for the band is an exciting bonding experience as well as a great recruitment opportunity for WVU, said second year drum major Emily Smallwood.
"We work very hard at what we love to do," Smallwood said. "And we hope that the success of the Pride Travel Fund will allow us to put on display the pride that we have for WVU and the state of West Virginia."
Donors who give $500 or more become members of the prestigious 100 Mile Club. Those who contribute $100 or more before Sept. 30 receive a band CD, and all donors receive a car decal.
To donate online, click on the Pride Travel Fund logo above or call the WVU Foundation at 304-284-4000.