The WVU Foundation is calling for supporters of the University and the band, also known as The Pride of West Virginia, to help with the band's mounting travel bills. Getting The Pride to away games or events around the state is anything but affordable, according to Jay Drury, the band's director.
The cost of band traveling can range anywhere from $9,000 for a state event such as the Forest Festival in Elkins to over $50,000 for an away football game such as Louisville.
"There are lots of places we would like to go, but can't because of budget limitations," Drury said. "The Pride Travel Fund will be a big boost."
He added that buses, hotels and food are the three major travel expenses. The largest being the nine charter buses needed. With the increasing cost of gasoline, it is becoming more expensive to attend events even around West Virginia.
Hotel costs are also on the rise. For an average trip, the band must book at least 110-120 rooms. "And then there are the 380 mouths to feed," Drury said.
Due to expense, the band only travels to one regular season away game, but with the Friends of Coal Bowl in Huntington this year, the band will travel to Marshall and hopes to attend another game. The Marshall trip is estimated to cost $27,500, according to Drury. The band will also play shows at area high schools and other events along the way.
Local and state events such as parades and festivals are not cheap either, he noted. For an event such as the Forest Festival, the cost for buses is $7,000 and $2,000 for food.
Often, the band is not able to attend these small events unless the expenses are paid by the group that invites The Pride or it is added to the agenda of a much larger trip, said Drury.
Traveling is a large part of the experience of playing in the band. Drum Major Lauren Eakins said the band is the reason she chose to study at WVU and the traveling can be a bonding experience as well as a great recruitment tool for the University.
"We look forward to it," she said. "It's our chance to put on display the pride that we have for the University."
Last year the Band Aid Drive raised money for new uniforms and showed overwhelming support for the band, the WVU Foundation hopes The Pride Travel Fund will experience similar success.
Anyone interested in contributing to The Pride Travel Fund may do so by contacting the WVU Foundation at 304-284-4000 or visiting online at www.wvuf.org.
Donors who give $500 or $1,000 to The Pride Travel Fund this year become charter members of the prestigious 100 Mile Club. Those who contribute $100 or more receive a band CD, and all donors receive a car decal.
The WVU Foundation is a private nonprofit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.