ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WKRG) — On the first day of their summer break, dozens of Robertsdale band members were back at school for a surprise. Apple CEO Tim Cook made a big donation to the band.
“We kept joking around we got new floors,” says senior Michael Chastang.
They had no idea what band director Lee Hughes was about to say as he herded them into the band room where almost 30 instrument cases formed a semi-circle in the middle of the band room.
“The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, who is a Robertsdale graduate and a trombone player in the band when he was here,” he began, “has donated $100,000 so we can have enough marching instruments to have for next year. So everything you see, is for you.”
The students seemed stunned at first and then began opening the cases to see what was inside. “It’s gorgeous,” said Abbie McKee as she opened up the case of a seven thousand dollar sousaphone. “It’s beautiful, it hasn’t been touched before “
Chastang went straight for the bassoon. “The previous bassoon I was playing on was plastic. I mean, it worked. It let out the sounds but nothing like this. I just tested it out and it’s red tiger maple and it is absolutely phenomenal.”
The marching band has almost tripled in size over the last five years. All of the new saxophones, tubas and flutes will not only impact this generation but the next says Hughes. “This is incredible. You’re talking 30 years, 40 years of use of these instruments. It’s going to affect thousands of kids.”
Tim Cook has never forgotten where he grew up and graduated high school. Each year he sponsors almost $50,000 worth of scholarships. When the Golden Bear Marching Band needed a boost he came through again. “Thank you for being a band nerd,” added Chastang, “because this is definitely appreciated.”