At noon on a Friday in late July 2017, 20 high school drummers from El Paso, Texas, gathered in their band room to spend one of their last summer weekends raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Clad in matching T-shirts and shorts, the students from Bel Air High School began to drum at the stroke of noon and didn’t stop until noon the following day. They practiced their entire fall marching program, a variety of percussion cadences and any other beat that would keep them awake and drumming, said their percussion director Ben Perez.
Perez proposed the drum-a-thon as a way for students to raise money for much-needed equipment. As a character-development lesson, he also asked that the students pledge half of the donation to a charity.
I wanted to take these kids on a journey to see where percussion can lead. I wanted to teach them that while we’re raising money, we can’t be selfish. Let’s give back to the community and to others in more need than us.
The event was shown live on YouTube and supporters pledged through an online fundraising site. It raised almost $4,100 and half was donated to St. Jude.
That giving spirit makes it possible for families to never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
Perez first became aware of St. Jude through the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids® radio fundraising program, hearing the powerful testimonials of St. Jude families on his favorite county music station.
Neither Perez nor any of his students had any experience with childhood cancer prior to the drum-a-thon. However, a middle school student also taught by Perez received a cancer diagnosis within weeks of the fundraiser.
Perez and his students know their support of St. Jude helps children in every community, because St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
The 20 high school drummers began their fundraiser to pay for drum heads and mallets. But thanks to a caring teacher, they also made a difference.
“For me, if I’m in front of children, I need to show them their role in society,” Perez said. “If we are to be successful as an organization and a community and a country, we need to take care of each other.”
Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.
When you donate monthly, your gift means families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.