Cleveland High's band fundraiser -- a marathon of music -- goes online and raises money

DAVID F. ASHTON - The clarinet section of one of the Cleveland High School concert bands plays on, during the 2018 fundraising live-streamed Play-a-Thon. Although many students excel in the instrumental music programs at Cleveland High School, up until four years ago the bands had little financial support.

But that was before parents such as Eric Hill, the current President of "Friends of Cleveland Bands", created that organization to raise funds – mostly with 'Play-a-Thons'; and the most recent eight-hour concert took place on Friday, October 5.

"Actually, I'm 'second generation band booster', because my mom supported our bands back where I grew up in Houghton Lake Michigan," Hill grinned. "This is important to me now, because one of my kids is a student – now a senior here at CHS; so, when the founder stepped down this year, I took on that role.

"Originally, a few 'band parents' got together with Gary Riler, the band instructor, and held our first 'Play-a-Thon' four years ago – and, to our surprise and delight, we raised $9,000. The second year's event raised $16,000; and last year, we gathered $22,000 to support our bands!"

The money raised helps pay for sheet music, and subsidizes students' uniforms, and their expenses in traveling to competitions and to events, said Hill. "For example, it was an honor to be invited to play in the Portland Rose Festival Starlight Parade, but transportation just to downtown and back for the band cost about $800; these expenses add up quickly."

While one of their three concert bands was playing in the background, Hill explained that, instead of selling tickets to the 'Play-a-Thons", they now stream it live on YouTube and on their GoFundMe fundraising site pages. "Money is coming in while we play!" Hill enthused.

While a CHS jazz combo took the stage, CHS Director of Bands Gary Riler looked tired but pleased – both by the music his students had played, and by the mounting fundraising total it had generated.

"It's been an amazing journey; we started with two parents, and the program just keeps getting larger and more successful," Riler said. "We're very grateful for the support of our parents, the business community, and friends who grab onto the passion and jump on board; it affirms what we're trying to do with our band programs!"

When the marathon concert finally came to its end at 11:45 p.m., Hill put this message of thanks of the website: "Thanks for your amazing support. We hit our stretch goal, and raised over $12,000 tonight. CHS Play-A-Thon 2018 – signing off."

These funds were in addition to money donated in advance of the event, and even more came in after it ended, which brought their total (as of when THE BEE went to press) to $28,460.

But even now, it's not too late to contribute. You can do so at the CHS Band fundraising website:

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