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Pay To Play

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but wouldn't it have been great if Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade had inked a $75,000 check for the J.P. Taravella High School Marching Trojans? "Absolutely," says Debbie Rabinowitz, the band president and mother of a trombone-playing sophomore named Brian. 

Still, she says the $10,000 contribution is more than welcome, as is the $6,000 in autographed Heat memorabilia Wade tossed in for good measure. For the 172-member band, it's a big step closer to Washington DC, where they're scheduled to perform for President-elect Barack Obama in the Jan. 20 inauguration parade.

And the kids are seriously stoked to have caught the eye of the handsome Heat player. "They all want to meet him!" Rabinowitz says. "I had several that wanted to pick up the check from him."

Wade's the most glamorous, but he's not the most generous contributor.

That would be Vista Health Care, says Rabinowitz. The company chipped in $19,000 after hearing of the marching band's financial shortcomings. At last count, the band had raised $83,000 towards the $150,000 bus trip. Not bad for a month's work; the Coral Springs school only got word of its selection in early December.  

Fundraising fatigue has definitely set in. In a typical school year, i.e. one that doesn't include a last-minute trip to what looks to be the most heavily attended presidential inauguration in US history, the band needs to raise $235,000. Yet the Marching Trojans remain hopeful that they can bridge the gap in the coming days. Rabinowitz says that the phone in the band room is ringing off the hook, and that contributions continue to pour in. Just this morning, she faxed a letter requesting funds from retired NBA baller Alonzo Mourning's foundation. And there's still the option of hitting up famous Taravella alums, such as retired NFL linebacker Dan Morgan (class of '97) and Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White, aka Twiggy Ramirez (class of '89). 

The band will auction off the Dwyane Wade memorabilia on school grounds this Sunday at a fundraiser picnic that begins at 1:30pm. For $10 a head, attendees can nosh on ribs and fixins' from Applebee's and listen to the medley that the band will perform in DC (a mix of the state song, Swanee River, and Stevie Wonder's You Are the Sunshine of My Life).    

For more info on the band's fundraising progress, or to contribute, visit the band's website.

-- Amy Guthrie