Michael Boo
Some marchers would find it impossible to march if it were not for the good hearts of sponsors, both known and anonymous. What many marchers in financial need may not realize is that obtaining sponsorship is often easier than one would imagine. Sometimes it just comes down to getting the word out that one needs sponsorships in order to march. In this installment of Fanfare, we're going to hear from all sides of the sponsorship topic. Chris Grifa marched with the Cadets in 2000 and 2002. He explains how he obtained sponsorship. "When I went to march with the Cadets in 2000, I was a freshmen in college at James Madison University. I wasn't able to work that much then because I was music major and I was really busy. I knew that I was going to need some help. "At a camp, George Hopkins talked to us about sponsorship and said that a lot of members try to get sponsors to help out with the cost of touring, as the Cadets are an expensive corps to march in. The Cadets supply you with a sponsorship form, which is like a carbon copy receipt. The top is white and the next two copies are other colors. The sponsor fills out the form with their name, address, amount of the sponsorship, the member's name, etc. The Cadets keep the white sheet, the marcher gets the middle one, and the sponsor gets the last copy. "The Cadets also offer a brochure that discusses the corps' organization, what it is about, what we the members get out of it, along with a sponsorship list. It tells the potential sponsor that if they sponsor at a certain level, they will get a certain gift, etc. I put this in my envelope so the people who knew nothing about drum corps would know that the sponsorship was for real and I wasn't trying to scam them. "For my part, I wrote a two-page letter. [The text of the letter is at the bottom of this column.] This was my major play in getting the sponsorships. I talked about myself, where I was in college, and my plans for the future. I provided a history on the Cadets and information about what a drum corps is and why it is beneficial for them to help me have this experience. I talked about the show, and at the end I thanked them for reading the letter and stated I hoped to hear from them soon. "In the 2002 letter, I talked a little about my experience in 2000, etc. I sent this letter to everyone I had sent a form, plus all of my family and friends. In sponsorship, every little bit helps. I then sent the letters to local businesses, music stores, my high school's band parents association, my high school and college band directors ... anyone and everyone that I could think of. "I put a lot of effort into it because I really wanted to march, and I not only got my whole tour paid for by sponsorships, I also got some spending money for the summer. "My parents helped me out with the tour supplies, and like every rookie, I brought way more than I needed. After I received a sponsor ship, I sent my sponsors thank-you cards, no matter how little or how much they provided. I informed them of the date and location of the closest show to them where the corps would be, so they could come see where their money went. "The sponsorship is not tax-deductible. I am positive that I would not have been able to march if I hadn't done all the work to obtain sponsorships to pay for it. Any marcher can do this; it just depends on how much work and effort you are willing to put into it. I don't know the policy of other corps ... if they have a sponsorship program, though I believe that most do. "In closing, if a person wants to do junior corps and doesn't have the money, this is the way to go. Any person who wants to march needs to have the experience of marching. It is one that I will never forget. It doesn't matter what corps they march with, because every corps does their own thing, every corps works hard, and every corps will give them the experience of a lifetime. They will learn more about themselves, about life, about music, about marching, about everything. "That is why drum corps is so great: It's not about the placement on finals night or even making finals. It is about the friends you make, the other members of the corps that hurt, sweat, cry, laugh, and put their sticks, horns, or flags down together to march off that field on their last night together. All this was worth the work I put into being able to have the experiences I've had. "I still thank all the people that helped me out. Again, to all who helped me, thank you." Now let's hear from a sponsor who knows sponsorship from both sides. Chris Atkinson of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., marched in the Phantom Regiment Cadets in 1990 and the Phantom Regiment in 1991. Currently he is a current member of the Phantom Regiment Booster Club. According to Chris, "When I marched, I was sort of anxious about being able to pay the dues for Phantom, because my family really didn't have the money to help pay for the tour fee. "When I approached local businesses about potentially sponsoring me, I was surprised to find that they were impressed with my 'sales pitch' on the activity. I ended up not paying a cent out-of-pocket for dues, thanks to the help of both local businesses and local franchises of national chain stores. They made it possible for me to march and made my dream of being a member of the Phantom Regiment come true. They got some coverage in the local media as my sponsors, and I got to achieve the dream of marching in my favorite drum corps! "To this day, I still appreciate their amazing support, since they helped make it all possible! But, it's a good lesson ... always ask for help if you need it! You might be surprised how much people really do care. "We partially sponsor a member of the Phantom Regiment every year. This year, we are helping out a member of the PR soprano section who is aging out this year. I happily try to help out every year because I know how important drum corps is, and how much it enriches the lives of members. Mike promised us last summer that he would be sure to sponsor a member some day, too, when he's in a position to do so. It's that kind of giving back that makes Phantom a strong organization. We really are a phamily!" Matt Leide of Carol Stream, Ill., writes about "zigging when I should have zagged." He adds, "I grew up in a drum corps family. My brother marched with a small corps affiliated with the local VFW for a couple of years, then moved up to the Guardsmen, a Division I corps from Schaumburg, Ill., who eventually made the DCI World finals in 1976. My sister marched for the same small corps. My other brother also marched briefly with the Guardsmen. "I thought that all kids got to see parades with ten drum corps in them and also spent their summers seeing drum corps competitions. I remember the pride when the Guardsmen beat the Cavaliers for the VFW State Championship (in 1977), and I also wondered why I was the only kid in junior high wearing a drum corps T-shirt. "I'm not sure what happened when it was my turn. Either my parents were tired of the summer drum corps grind or I wasn't vocal enough. The result is that I never marched. I'll never know what I missed. I'll never experience all that drum corps is. "As the years passed, I'd go to see an occasional show, either at DeKalb or Madison. I still enjoyed the shows, but I didn't feel connected to drum corps any more. As fate would have it, my oldest brother's career brought him to work for DCI (as director of operations). On occasion, through conversations, I'd hear a little about how this or that corps was doing, but it was still just casual conversation. "Last year, DCI needed to send two souvenir trucks in two different directions at the same time (to Murfreesboro and Indy). I was asked to drive the truck to Indy. I was able to see the show that evening and was blown away. It had been a while since I had been to a show; I was amazed to see the level that drum corps had risen to. I loved the whole show ... all the corps were fabulous. I was particularly drawn to the Seattle Cascades' show. It just stuck with me. "When I got back to work on the following Monday, I was having a conversation with a friend and fellow corps fan. He told me that he had helped a member of the Cavaliers with tuition one year. I had never heard of that type of sponsorship. "I had been having the busiest summer of my life and was looking forward to one weekend in August with no plans. As it turns out, that was World Championships weekend in Madison. When I heard that the Cascades had made finals, I knew I had to be there. My wife and I got in the car and drove to Madison. We didn't have tickets but figured we would find a way in. We got seats way up in the upper deck. "I again loved the show and loved the Cascades. Throughout both shows I kept noticing this one Cascades guard member. I can't tell you exactly why, but I became very impressed with her performance. After finals, I put the sponsorship conversation together with this guard member in my head. My wife and I decided to sponsor her for the 2003 season. Through the power of the Internet and the help of another Cascades member, I got in contact with her and made sponsorship arrangements. "I expanded a little further and have helped a total of five various corps members with tuition. There are now three Cascades members and two Phantom Regiment members that I call 'my kids.' "I'm not mentioning this to toot my own horn. I mention this to tell the world that sponsoring corps members, for me, has been an amazing and rewarding experience and the season hasn't even started [as of the time the writer of this column received this e-mail]. I've received lots of e-mail from all my Cascades kids on a regular basis, and I get camp updates and a flavor for what corps life is. "I've been in contact with several other Cascades members, current and alumni, who just want to talk drum corps. I've been in contact with the parents of other members. I've visited a Crossmen camp and two Phantom Regiment camps. The Phantom corps director knows me by name and sight and remembers the kids I've sponsored. I even marched as a water carrier for Phantom during two Memorial Day parades. Thanks to a wide variety of people, the drum corps world has opened up for me, too. "I still feel like I missed out as a kid, but it doesn't matter anymore. To be involved at any level and get a chance to meet this amazing group of people has me completely excited about the 2003 season. I will see several shows this year; I have already purchased my plane ticket to Orlando." On July 1, I received an e-mail from Matt, containing the following message. "I thought you might get a kick out of this. I got a call Sunday night from one of my Cascades kids at about midnight, Chicago time. She found out that the Cascades and Phantom Regiment were going to have ice cream together after the Concord show. She wanted me to remind her of the names of my Regiment kids. Picture three Cascades kids calling out the names of two Phantom kids so they can have ice cream together in California. The only common denominator is their sponsor back in Chicagoland. "It's the dumb little stuff that makes this all fun." Matt sent in another update this morning: "My portion of this article left off in July. Since then I was able to be in Orlando and meet my Seattle kids. "I was able to go to both Seattle's and Phantom's practice sites in Orlando. I got to hang out with some Phantom members at Epcot after the parade and went to the Magic Kingdom with Cascades members on the morning of finals. As I walked around the Citrus Bowl I was amazed at how many Cascades and Regiment members said hello. It was so much fun being involved in their drum corps experience this summer. "Note to anyone seeking tuition sponsorship: Making your sponsor feel included is the key. I received notes, e-mail and phone calls all summer. Up in Rockford they call me Phamily. "For anyone encouraged to seek out a member to sponsor, check the corps' Web site, call the corps directly or try Corpreps.com. "I can't express enough that this was one of the most rewarding things I've done in the last few decades. I again encourage you all to find just one kid and get involved at a whole new level."
Here is the text of Chris Grifa's letter to potential sponsors: May 6, 2002
(fill in name) Hello, my name is Chris Grifa and I am currently a junior at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. I am a 1999 graduate of Great Bridge High School located in Chesapeake, Va. I am currently a music major (trombone) with a concentration in music education. I am also a member of the Virginia Wind Symphony under the direction of Dennis Zeisler. This coming summer I have the distinct opportunity to again further my musical experience by marching with the Cadets drum and bugle corps. The Cadets are part of an organization called Drum Corps International (DCI). There are over 80 drum and bugle corps across the country and there are even a few in Canada and Japan. A drum and bugle corps is a lot like a marching band. The difference between them is that a drum and bugle corps does not have any woodwinds. A drum corps consists of three main sections: The brass section, the percussion section and the color guard. The color guard enhances the visual aspect of the show by combining flags and dance techniques to add drama and color to the performance. When you put these three sections together it makes an 11 and a half minute musical production that is guaranteed to take your breath away! Drum Corps International sponsors competitions across the country for the corps during the summer. Rehearsals for the drum corps traditionally start after Thanksgiving until the summer schedule begins. The summer schedule that a drum corps follows starts in mid May and ends in August, culminating with the DCI World Championships. An average corps travels over 12,000 miles throughout the summer. They usually sleep on the bus at night while they travel to their next competition. The corps stays at high schools during the day to rehearse for the competition that evening. They travel the whole summer practicing and competing to get ready for the DCI finals that are held in mid-August. At the final show of the season, the corps plays for the last time the show they spent their summer practicing. It is the corps' chance to be the DCI World Champions. The 2002 DCI finals are going to be held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The Cadets are the oldest and most honored drum corps in the world. The corps was formed at a meeting of The Parish Council of the Most Holy Name Church in Garfield, N.J., in the winter of 1934. The corps was then called The Holy Name Fife, Drum and Bugle Corps. Almost immediately, membership in this group became a symbol of high achievement among the people of Garfield. In 1936, the corps officially took the name "Cadets." The corps to this day still wears the same Cadet-style maroon uniforms that they wore 64 years ago. The modern era of The Cadets actually began in 1982. In 1983, the Garfield Cadets (as they were then known) won their first-ever DCI World Championship. The Cadets set a new standard in DCI history. They opened up a new door in the visual aspect of drum corps. With a new style of marching, the Garfield Cadets also won the DCI championship in 1984 and 1985. They became the first corps to win three DCI Championships in a row, and are still the only corps to do so. The corps won again in 1987 and in 1990, 1993, 1998 and 2000. Other than just competing in DCI competitions, the Cadets have also been featured in such events as the closing ceremonies in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, The All-Star baseball game and recently have been featured on "Late Show with David Lettermen." Now, in the coming 2002 season, The Cadets continue with their "relentless pursuit of the edge" with a show that has a real American theme in tribute to the events of September 11. They combine art and technical skill to be even more competitive each year. To be a member of the Cadets is indeed a very high honor. Each year over 400 hundred people audition to be a member of the Cadets. In the end there are a total of 135 members in the Cadets of Bergen County. This group of young adults between the ages of 14-21 must learn to work together and become a family for the summer. The mission of the Cadets is to provide its members the finest music education available anywhere. The most accomplished and experienced instructors in the marching music activity are recruited to become a part of the organization. Emphasis is placed on self-motivation, geared to individual achievement and common goals. I had the distinct opportunity to be a part of the 2000 World Champion Cadets. I learned a lot not only in the area of music, which I love dearly, but about life. Organization, teamwork, discipline, motivation and hard work are but a handful of the skills that I learned that summer. Being a member of the Cadets is a very high honor and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have also had the opportunity to take what I have learned from The Cadets and teach other young musicians in different high schools about marching, music, and life. I intend to continue spreading this knowledge in my goal to become a high school band director. To be a member of the Cadets, each member is required to pay a total fee of $1,750. This cost includes the cost of food, transportation, housing, uniforms and world-class instruction. To help with the costs of tour, the Cadets offer a sponsorship program. By sponsoring me, you can help me defer the costs of this most honored opportunity. Your donation is NOT tax deductible, as the IRS considers this cost tuition. If you are interested in helping me through the sponsorship program, please fill out the sponsorship form, keep the bottom slip and return the other two to me with the donation. If you helped sponsor me in the 2000 season, I thank you and I again ask for your support. If it were not for your help I wouldn't have been able to accomplish what I did with The Cadets during that memorable year and is why I ask again. When you respond I will send you a schedule of the summer so you can come and see The Cadets perform live. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope to see you on the road! Sincerely,
Chris Grifa "For Holy Name Shall Always Be"
The Cadets 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 masters 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.