The West Valley High School marching band and color guard last year experienced the opportunity to play in the Veteran’s Day Parade and Band of Pride Patriotic Concert in New York City.
However, West Valley Band Director Jim Loucks had an inspiring experience of his own on the trip: witnessing the Soul Steppers perform.
The Soul Steppers – a high-energy, synchronized drill team from Michigan City, Indiana – were assigned a spot in the Veteran’s Day Parade warm-up area next to the West Valley High School marching band.
Loucks asked their director, Lyn Isbell, if she would like to do a combined performance with West Valley’s drum line.
“I was so compelled watching them perform,” Loucks said. “I was very intrigued by this group. They are such phenomenal musicians.”
While West Valley’s percussion equipment was bright and pristine, the Soul Steppers had antiquated equipment they played as if it were brand new.
“They made a real impact in my life, and I thought ‘There’s got to be something we can do to get them some better equipment,’ ” Loucks said. “It would be a really cool way to give my kids the opportunity to give something back to someone else.”
The Soul Steppers – a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth by providing weekly activities such as community service, mentoring sessions and practice sessions for performances – was founded in 2000 by Isbell and participates in more than 25 parades each year.
“Through music, she’s been able to turn these kids’ lives around,” Loucks said.
Loucks approached Isbell with the idea of a fundraiser to purchase new band equipment for the Soul Steppers.
“She broke down and said it was one of the nicest things that anyone has done for the group,” Loucks said.
Loucks has secured a vendor for the equipment purchase and is aiming to reach the goal before Christmas.
“The students have no idea this is happening,” Loucks said. “Lyn has not told them. My goal is to go back there and present it to them.”
To date, Loucks has raised more than $5,000 out of his $9,000 goal to purchase snare, tenor bass and percussion drums for the Soul Steppers with donations coming in from Spokane, Montana, Idaho and Oregon.
“The Spokane community has been of great support,” Loucks said. “So many people have been so kind in their comments. It’s amazing. I’m eternally grateful for their help.”