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2011 Pride Travel Fund campaign kicks off

Alumni and friends of West Virginia University and the Mountaineer Marching Band are being asked to help the band travel this fall, including a planned trip to Piscataway, N.J. for the Oct. 29 football game against Rutgers University.

The Pride Travel Fund, established by the WVU Foundation, is now accepting donations to help defray 2011 travel costs for the ???Pride of West Virginia,??? as the band is known. Along with a trip to New Jersey, the band also hopes to travel to the Cincinnati game, as well as locations around the state and region for concert and exhibition performances.

Getting the nearly 400-member band plus staff to away games or events around the state is very expensive, said Jay Drury, the band???s director.

???While the University and the Athletic Department provide financial support for the band, our travel expenses exceed the band???s budget,??? he said. ???We rely on private support from our alumni and friends to enable us to travel.???

Drury said that buses, hotels and food are the three major travel expenses. The largest being the nine charter buses needed to transport the band.

???The band plays an important role in creating excitement and generating Mountaineer spirit with its performances ??? both home and away,??? Drury said. ???Away football games serve as a recruiting tool for the Pride, and band members represent WVU and the state when they travel across the country and talk with alums, potential students and Mountaineer fans.???

Currently in its fifth year, the Pride Travel Fund has become a successful campaign for the marching band and the University alike. Donors have contributed more than $410,000 to the Pride Travel Fund since the campaign???s inception in 2007. The contributions have enabled the band to travel to away games over the years at LSU, Auburn, Syracuse, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Marshall.

Second year drum major Katie Demyan says traveling with the band is a rewarding experience for both band members and the University.

???Traveling and performing with the WVU band affords the members with some awesome experiences that in turn push us all to practice harder in order to represent our state and University with ???Pride???,??? she said. ???It???s always a privilege to meet Mountaineer fans across the state and nation, and I can say with confidence that the band has recruited a few new fans along the way.???

Being part of the band and having the opportunity to perform across the state, region and the country is an honor for first year drum major Jesse Stout.

???The band serves as an ambassador for not only the University, but the entire state. When you give to the Pride Travel Fund, you???re giving back to Mountaineers everywhere,??? said Stout. ???You???re giving the WVU band an opportunity to represent West Virginia and show what we???re all about: pride!???

Serving as this year???s honorary chairman of the Pride Travel Fund Campaign is Mountaineer Sports Network and MetroNews announcer Hoppy Kercheval.

Donors who give $500 or more become members of the prestigious 100 Mile Club and will receive a Pride of West Virginia lapel pin. Those who contribute $100 or more before Sept. 30 will receive a band CD featuring last season???s musical performances, and all donors will receive a car decal.

Anyone interested in contributing to The Pride Travel Fund may do so by contacting the WVU Foundation, 304-284-4000 or www.PrideTravelFund.com.

The WVU Foundation is a private nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.