Benefit held for Pershing MS band students

May 18, 2010 9:48:58 AM PDT
A little more than a week ago, on a highway bridge near Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Pershing Middle School band bus caught on fire. The students were able to save themselves but nothing else, including their instruments. On Monday night, the young musicians got help to buy new equipment.

On this school night, Josephine Gottfried bypassed the 3 R's for only two -- rock 'n' roll.

"I had to come," Gottfried said. "I couldn't pass it up."

The high school freshman and Pershing Middle School alumnus is among the dozens of people who shelled out 20 bucks for a concert and a good cause.

"It's scary to look back at those pictures and realize what could have happened," Pershing Middle School principal Robin Lowe said.

On May 9, as the Pershing Middle School band was driving back from a trip to Florida, a blown tire on one of their buses caught fire and it quickly spread. Everyone got off safely, but $25,000 in instruments and personal items were destroyed.

Ever since, the community has stepped up. And Monday night is just one more gesture that touches Lowe.

"We are just so grateful for the support," Lowe said.

Houston band Pale and two Cox-owned radio stations helped to make the benefit happen. All proceeds go towards replacing the instruments that were lost.

Band director Richard Smith says the trip was always intended to be a learning experience.

Now, the kids are getting just a different kind of lesson.

"Tremendous lesson in being humble, being able to be caring, give your heart to whoever is in need," Smith said. "It's just a great lesson for all the kids to learn."

Monday night's concert was open to all ages, but no Pershing band members attended because finals start Tuesday. The school says they've got lots of e-mails and phone calls with people wanting to help, and a company has been lending instruments to students until the end of the year.

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