With a little help from my friends: HMB Parent Group reaches $100,000 fundraising milestone
Nearly four years ago, the Hudson High School marching band was wearing 20-year-old uniforms, using a rusty trailer to lug around their percussion equipment and was in need of several new instruments.
"At that time, myself, Lisa Schultz and Mary Schaefer were volunteering at one of the band field shows and we noticed how everything was in bad shape," said current Hudson Marching Band Parent Group President Beth Hoppe-Stidham. "The trailer was dented, rusted, faded and way too small for all the equipment that needed to be hauled. The uniforms were over 20 years old and duct tape seemed to be holding everything together."
To raise funds for the marching band, Hoppe-Stidham, Schultz and Schaefer — as well as several other marching band parents — formed the marching band parent group with the goal of raising funds to purchase new uniforms and a new trailer.
"The group started in the spring of 2015. Our mission is to sponsor activities to support the students and instructors of the Hudson marching band. Our initial goal was to raise $80,000 to purchase new uniforms and a new trailer," Hoppe-Stidham said. "We also organize fundraisers to support the band fiscally, and plan social events to help band families get to know one another."
As of Nov. 2, the parent group surpassed the $100,000 mark and has been able to purchase several more pieces of equipment, including instruments and color guard uniforms, to help the Hudson Marching Band show off its hometown pride.
"Amazing what can happen when you get a few motivated people together. Knowing we raised that much money in such a short amount of time, and also a real sense of community with all the other charities out there, the generosity is humbling," said parent group member Ross Royer.
According to marching band director Ryan McCarthy, the formation of the parent group started paying dividends almost immediately. Shortly after the group formed, a band supporter stepped forward and said they wanted to jump start the fundraising, so they donated $10,000 anonymously with the stipulation that the district match the funds and that the funds be used within the next year.
The district agreed, which took the band's fundraising dollars from $0 to $20,000 in less than three days. A week or so later, another band parent anonymously donated $10,000, putting the bands' fund at $30,000 in the first week.
"When the parent group started going out into the community they were able to say that they were already halfway to their goal and a couple asked businesses and community members to help us reach our goal faster," McCarthy said. "It was no longer a pipe dream, but instead was something we could start building on."
In March 2015, the band was able to start getting samples made of the new uniforms, which allowed McCarthy to walk into the middle school to recruit new students to the marching band and tell them now was the best time to join. He was able to show off a sample uniform for the drum majors to give the students an idea of what they could look forward to. According to McCarthy, the band started the year in its old uniforms, but were able to debut its new uniforms at homecoming in September 2015. The 2018 season was the third full season in the new uniforms.
"Seeing the band come out in their new uniforms — knowing that the parent group, along with the community as a whole, were able to help raise the money to purchase the new uniforms — gave me a real sense of community pride," said Schultz. "Hudson is a very supportive community. The individuals who live here and the businesses that do work here."
Although the parent group had hit its $80,000 goal, it kept fundraising in order to help the band purchase new color guard uniforms, new mellophones and the new trailer, which was purchased in the fall of 2017. Since then, the group has also been able to raise enough money for the band to purchase new marimbas, a xylophone and various other smaller props and equipment.
"The whole idea that in three-and-a-half years the group has raise $100,000 for the band is incredible. The Hudson community is incredibly supportive of the arts in general, but the outpouring of support for the band program has been very humbling," McCarthy said. "These parents really deserve some special recognition. Raising $100,000 in three years for the marching band specifically. Oh my gosh."
The group is now turning its attention toward getting a new vibraphone and replacing the drums, with some of the drums being close to 20 years old. According to McCarthy, the life expectancy for drums is five to 10 years.
To raise funds, the parent group held a variety of events, from restaurant fundraisers to playing music during halftime of Badger games at Kozy Korner for tips. The group's largest fundraisers were helping provide security for Pepper Fest and the Ford Drive 4 UR School program, in addition to receiving grants from groups such as the Hudson Rotary Club. According to Hoppe-Stidham, there are typically eight to 10 parents that meet regularly to plan activities, but there are many more parents who step up to volunteer at various events and odd jobs.
"I wish I could list the names of all of the generous donors who have supported the band these past four years, but the list would be too great. I just want everyone to know how grateful we are for their kindness and that their donations have been put to good use through the musical talents of these wonderful marching band kids," Hoppe-Stidham said.
McCarthy said last year's numbers in the marching band were a little lower than normal, but he hopes to have between 70 and 80 members in next year's band.
"I'm really thankful to have the support of the community as well as a group of people that work as hard as these guys do for the band and for the kids to give them an experience they can be proud of in all facets," McCarthy said. "To go from older uniforms to the new ones, the kids love these uniforms. They are proud to put these uniforms on and to show up at the stadium with a new trailer."
This year, the marching band performed in the Bayport, Booster Days and Pepper Fest parades, the Memorial Day event at Hudson Cemetery, home football games during half time and several field shows, including a performance at US Bank Stadium.
"I'm really thankful to the parents that continue to work hard. These kids bust their butts, so to have that kind of support is amazing for them. And to turn around and raise enough money in three months that we could place the order for new uniforms and have them six months later, that was amazing. These parents are hardworking and doing it for all the right reasons," McCarthy said. "It is a pleasure to have them and have that kind of support."
Those interested in donating to the marching band can attend one of the group's upcoming fundraisers — information for upcoming events can be found on the Hudson Marching Band Parent Group Facebook page — or send a check to PO BOX 581 payable to HMB Parent Group.