As many Walkers know, the day holds a lot of meaning and tradition. A crowd favorite we’ve all come to rely on over the years are the upbeat tunes of the Maple Jazz Band. The middle school band volunteered at the very first ALS Walk for Life and has been a staple on the course every year since.
We spoke to Director of Bands, Mike Vecchio, about the bands involvement at the Walk and why it’s such an important event to come back to year after year.
What got you started with volunteering at the Walk?
Lew Blond was a wood shop and applied technology teacher at Maple who passed away from ALS in February of 2000. He was an exceptional and dedicated educator of the applied arts and was revered and cherished by his students, his colleagues and the parents of the children he served. To honor Lew Blond’s memory, the Maple Jazz Band began volunteering at the Walk.
Why is it important for the students to volunteer at the Walk?
From the time the Maple Jazz Band began playing at the ALS Walk for Life years ago to today, we have served to provide joy, hope and encouragement to the Walkers that take part in this special event. The students see the importance of sharing their musical talents and giving back to the community in a meaningful way.
How many students join you for this event?
We have anywhere from 15 to 25 students join us each year. This includes current Maple Band students as well as many Maple Jazz Band alumni who come back to perform with the band each year just for this special day.
What is a highlight of Walk day for your students?
This event brings everyone together.The best part for us is cheering on the Walkers and having them wave and smile back at the band as they pass by. It’s a day full of positivity and hope.
In addition to their support at the Walk, Northbrook/Glenview School District #30 has hosted the Lew Blond Memorial 5K Run/Walk every May since 2001. The total funds raised over its 18 years exceeds $425,000. The event has graciously donated over $200,000 of its earnings to the Les Turner ALS Foundation.