Band Director Runs from East Alabama to New Orleans to Help Send Students to the Sugar Bowl

As part of our Fundraiser Hall of Fame series, we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Goodman. Matthew is the band director from Handley High School in Roanoke, Alabama, and he is quite literally going the extra mile for his students.

Mr. Goodman recently jogged 415 miles to raise money for the school’s marching band to perform in the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Handley High is one of 102 marching band and dance groups participating in college bowl game halftime shows through WorldStrides OnStage programs. “It is important that every student be able to attend the Sugar Bowl…Building this band program I must create memorable experiences, but those experiences should not be limited to just the students whose parents can afford to pay,” said Goodman.

The band needs to raise about $80,000 to cover the cost of hotel, food, transportation, and educational activities like a trip to the National World War II Museum. Although the group began fundraising last May through car washes and snack sales, the band had still come up short.

Goodman and one of his students devised the idea to jog from their hometown in Alabama to New Orleans, where the Sugar Bowl will take place. Goodman’s journey began on November 5, and he jogged 30+ miles a day in order to make his destination by November 18. He documented his journey on social media using the hashtags #GoTheExtraMileMusic and #Miles4Music.

Band Director Matthew Goodman runs to raise money for students
Band Director, Matthew Goodman hits the pavement to help raise funds for his students

As he pounded the pavement, Goodman said he had plenty of time to reflect and ponder. “Several thoughts crossed my mind. I thought about the sacrifices that people have made in the past to create opportunities for people… That crossed my mind during the stretch of Hwy 80 between Montgomery, AL and Selma, AL which is the very stretch that Dr. Martin Luther King marched to bring attention to registering black voters and to oppression. I was motivated throughout that area, which was difficult with the hard downpour of cold rain.” His motivating thoughts and his students kept him going strong. “My students would text me to check to make sure I was ok, and remind me that they missed me and were thankful. Senior trumpet player Marissa Wade texted me ‘You got this, I’m praying for you’ every single day and that meant a lot,” recalled Goodman.

Band Director Matthew Goodman runs across the Pettus Bridge
Goodman jogs across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (credit: Selma Times Journal)

The GoFundMe page Goodman established two months before he began his jogging journey has already raised over $17,000, far exceeding his goal of $10,000 goal. “We still have a way to go but every dime helps, and to see people give generously makes me happy.”

Goodman and his students are excited about the Sugar Bowl and experiencing many educational attractions in New Orleans. “I am looking forward to showcasing their musical abilities and seeing their expressions when we arrive in New Orleans, a place that only 4 of my 63 students have visited before,” Goodman said.

Way to go, Mr. Goodman! 5,200 marchers and dancers representing 102 groups of students from around the country will participate in seven college bowl game halftime shows this year. Join us in cheering on all the performing groups during this bowl game season!

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