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Donors contribute record $172K to WVU Foundation's 2016 Pride Travel Fund

Donors contribute record $172K to WVU Foundation's 2016 Pride Travel Fund

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A record $172,842 was donated this fall to help the West Virginia University Marching Band travel to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and other performances around the state and region.

WVU Foundation representatives say 1,282 donors gave to the 2016 Pride Travel Fund Campaign, resulting in the largest amount ever contributed since the Fund was initiated in 2007.

This year, the band had the extraordinary opportunity to lead the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing in front of millions of people live and on national television. As one of ten marching bands and the only featured collegiate band, the “Pride of West Virginia” paved the Manhattan parade route for floats, balloons, and celebrity performers.

Director of the WVU Marching Band Jay Drury said the experience was an unforgettable one for all involved.

“Representing West Virginia and the University at such a beloved national event was an honor,” Drury said. “We’d like to thank all who contributed to the Pride Travel Fund and made our travel to New York City possible.”

Band member Adam Richardson, a senior saxophone player, recounted the feeling of marching through the streets of Manhattan with his fellow Mountaineers.

“We had just turned onto 6th Avenue, and up on one of the balconies were about 30 people in gold and blue, with about 50 or so gold and blue balloons. As we made that turn and the group saw us, they let the balloons go and cheered. There were so many people there just to see the Pride, and I never expected that,” Richardson said. “None of this would have been possible without the gracious support of the people who donated to the Pride Travel Fund. I don’t think a single member of the band will forget this trip anytime soon.”

Senior piccolo player Katie Williams said marching in the Macy’s Parade has been a childhood dream of hers.

“The entire parade itself was so surreal. Seeing gold and blue line the streets of New York City made the city feel like home,” Williams said. “This trip was truly made possible by donations through the Pride Travel Fund. Having people support an organization that is so near and dear to me means the absolute world.”

“The support we received from WVU alumni and friends for this year’s Pride Travel Fund has truly been incredible,” said Mary Esposito, who headed up this year’s travel fund campaign for the WVU Foundation. “Every donor to this year’s travel fund helped make this once in a lifetime trip a possibility for members of the Pride of West Virginia. We are truly grateful for the record-breaking support.”

The Pride Travel Fund is also used to assist the band travel to performances at away football games as well as parades and exhibition performances around the state and region. This past season the band performed at the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea, the WVU-BYU football game at FedEx Field in Maryland, and the Forest Festival in Elkins among other events.

The WVU Foundation is a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU.

The Foundation is currently conducting A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December 2017. For more on the campaign, visit: