Matt Leide of Carol Stream, Ill., was last featured in the September 19, 2003 Fanfare column, "And Now a Word from Our Sponsors." Over the years, he's sponsored marchers in Phantom Regiment and other corps. In this column, he updates us on an interesting program he's helped develop for marchers needing financial assistance, in the hope that other corps in need of such a program will pick up on the idea. Following is his explanation of the Phantom Regiment Ambassadors Program. "Last year (2003 season), I got involved in drum corps on a personal level to try to better understand what it was like to be a member of a drum corps. I thought it would be a fun way to fill in a few things I missed from my youth and to really get to understand the activity from the inside. "When I originally sought out individuals to sponsor, I found it difficult and confusing. I had mixed results attempting to find members to sponsor. I used a Web site that featured members advertising for sponsorship and found that some of those listed had no affiliation with the corps for which they claimed to march. I called a couple corps directors and had some success that way. Overall, there was a lot of legwork involved. "After the "And now a word from our sponsors" article came out in September, someone who read the column sent Phantom Regiment director Pat Seidling an e-mail, offering to sponsor a kid for the upcoming season. After the same column, I too began to wonder what else I could do. Sure, I'll continue to sponsor more kids each year, but my budget is only so big ... what else could I do to help more kids? I know that there are many more marchers in need of assistance than I could personally afford to assist. "I know there are some corps that have member sponsorship programs, but the piece I thought was missing was any information about the members that were seeking for sponsorship. I wanted to do more than just a random donation. "My experience with my kids last year was anything but random, including lots of e-mails, postcards and phone calls during the winter camp season and into the tour. I've spoken with all of their parents and I get to see the excitement and support they get from home. I personally find this to be one of the most rewarding things I've done. "I thought it would be a good idea to use a corps Web site to allow members of that corps to advertise their needs for tuition sponsorship. This would help the marching member let his/her needs be known, as well as help the prospective sponsor find the "right" kid to sponsor. I brought this idea to Pat Seidling. "As we talked, we thought there should be more to the program than just asking for money. During the conversation, I mentioned that all the kids I had sponsored the previous years were great ambassadors for their corps. The name just kind of stuck. This is what became the public relations/tuition sponsorship program known as the Phantom Regiment Ambassadors Program. "When we presented the program to the public and the marchers, it had two purposes. First was to give the marching members an opportunity to connect with a member of the drum corps community, to be an ambassador for the corps. Any money received is secondary to the other purpose, to give the marchers a chance to "talk" drum corps to someone like me who never marched or to an alumnus that's just looking for a great way to stay in touch with the corps. "Up until the past week, the Web site contained profiles of over 30 Regiment members that were in need of some tuition assistance. Each had submitted a profile that gave the perspective sponsor a chance to find a member that they could connect with. The sponsor used this information to select someone believed would give them a glimpse into the 2004 Phantom Regiment. The tuition phase of the program has run its course and the profiles have now been removed from the Web site. "During the tuition phase, it was easy to find a member. All one had to do is simply follow this link, which brings you to an explanation of the program. At the bottom of the page was another link that would bring you to the member listings. If you found a member you'd like to sponsor, there was another link to the donation for which you could print, fill out and mail to the corps. "Twenty-two members received assistance through the program this year, which means there is now a bunch of sponsors talking to a bunch of marching members about drum corps. Some of the sponsors had very little knowledge about the activity prior to this. For us to be able to let them have this kind of access to a current marching member's season is the true measure of success of this program. "Once the corps office took care of the accounting stuff, I got the pleasure of e-mailing the member and telling them that they had received a donation. I passed along the sponsors' e-mail address and phone number so the member could begin their contact with their sponsor. We hoped this would become a lot of fun for both the members and the sponsors. "I'm not even sure how we're going to measure the success of this program by the end of the year. I know of members who have had substantial amounts of their tuition given. I know there were sponsors and members connecting through e-mail every day, and we've even had sponsors visit camps. I've seen sponsors become very excited about the season long before the first show, and I've personally spoken to several sponsors who really like the idea of helping someone to march. "I've helped sponsor four Regiment members this season and there's something in my inbox almost every day. I've received detailed camp reviews, personal thanks, and even some prom pictures from one color guard member. I will be doing the behind the scenes coordination of this effort throughout the 2004 season (and beyond). I would encourage anyone with the slightest interest to find a member to sponsor, whether that member is with the Phantom Regiment or any other corps. There are deserving kids throughout this activity. If there is any corps that would like to streamline or create a tuition sponsorship program, I'd be happy to help them. Regards, Matt Leide
Phantom Regiment Ambassadors Program Coordinator
Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.