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Home > News Briefs > American Fork H.S. Band Heads to Grand Nationals

Big fundraising, big emotions send American Fork H.S. Marching Band to Indianapolis

School raises $250,000 in two days to compete at BOA Grand National Championships and honor heroic director

American Fork H.S. (Utah) earned the top award at the 2009 Bands of America Regional Championship in St. George, Utah. INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 11, 2009 — At the outset, it was an emotional show dedicated to a past generation's sacrifices. The show became even more emotional and the impact more immediate when the American Fork H.S. Marching Band dedicated the show to assistant band director Heather Christensen, who died in October while trying to keep a bus carrying about 50 band students from crashing.

American Fork has won three marching band competitions since the tragedy a month ago, and now $250,000 donated over two days will send the show for one last, heartfelt performance weekend at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis.

The band designed its 2009 production around the theme of heroes, dedicated to the generation who had grown up during the Great Depression and went on to defend our country in World War II. Looking back at a remarkable show and the students who had dug so deep and grown so close after a tragic band bus accident, the band very much wanted to go to Grand Nationals.

Throughout the fall band season, the students had worn their grandparents' names on dog tags. After the accident, they added a dog tag bearing Christensen's name. Their performances have been solid and inspired ever since, and the band and community decided they should perform one more weekend on a national stage. However, the band had not originally planned for the trip, given the state of the economy and tight family budgets. American Fork determined the trip this weekend would require raising about $250,000 for travel and expenses.

American Fork announced its goal Sunday, noting a need to raise the entire amount by Tuesday evening to allow for plans to be made. Through a number of private donations coming from individuals across the community and the country, as well as corporate donations, the band announced Tuesday afternoon that they had reached their goal. Music for All put American Fork High School in the Grand National Championships preliminary contest schedule for Friday afternoon. If the band advances, it could perform Saturday for semi-finals and even Saturday evening for finals.

"There are just a lot of things that have fallen into place that we never anticipated when we started the season," said Dan Adams, coordinator of the band dads. "We've had a wonderful outpouring of support from all across the country. It's a real tribute to the generosity of people, especially in these tough times."

Music for All is pleased that American Fork will be among the 90 bands at the Bands of America Grand National Championships this week, according to Music for All CEO Scott McCormick.

"Music for All's Bands of America championship series is about so much more than competition. It's about hard work, teamwork, musicianship, leadership, and learning about yourself and about life in the company of other students, teachers and families who care about music and one another," says McCormick. "American Fork has truly exemplified those attitudes this year as they've pulled together and come through a terrible tragedy with grace and courage."

Music for All (MFA) is one of the nation's largest and most influential organizations in support of active music-making. Headquartered in Indianapolis, MFA uniquely combines regional and national music-event programming with awareness campaigns and advocacy aimed at expanding access to music in schools and communities, including significant support of the IPS music education programs. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization, MFA's programs include 25-plus annual events, including the Music for All National Festival, the Music for All Summer Symposium, the Bands of America Grand National marching band championships and Regional marching band championships across the country. Learn more at

See more information about the Bands of America Grand National Championships on

Text and photo courtesy of Music For All.

Copyright 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.

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