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Omaha South marching band heads to D.C.

Posted at 10:43 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-26 10:44:25-04

On the final rehearsal before heading off to the nation's capitol to perform at the Memorial Day parade, Omaha South High School's marching band reflected on the great length they went to afford the trip. 

"We have a lot of students who qualify for  free and reduced lunch, and an opportunity like this doesn't come up very often, and when it does, the financial situation is the factor that holds these guys back," says Joe Homan, director of bands. 

At about $600 per student, the price was unrealistic for many students and their families.

"My family and i were really worried. We were contacting friends and everything, saying hey we could sell this for you, we could make food…we could do anything, just help me raise for me, or for my band," said Pablo Hernandez, the band's conductor. 

The band did everything they could, from selling meat sticks, cookie dough, hosting car washes, and starting up a GoFundMe account. 

"There were times when we were checking and there were increments and increments and we started raising more money and by the time you knew it, we had reached our goal. We were ecstatic. Like, hey, we're going to D.C.!" says junior, Kyle Cunningham. 

The community rallied behind them, helping them exceed their goal of $90 thousand dollars. 

But their support came from way beyond South Omaha.

"We had people from all over the place - out of state, all over, mail in money, donation checks and really touching letters from their experience in band, even people who were in band in 1940 - it was just really fun to read those letters," says Homan. 

The band raised $140 thousand, which helped cover the the cost of brand new uniforms and better equipment. The extra funds also made it possible for the students to stay an extra day and sight see. 

"During the process of fundraising, these kids would not give up. It was just constant, what can we do to make this happen for everybody," says Homan. 

"Omaha south, ya know - we're known for sticking together as a family so we stuck together too and we helped fundraise all this money," says Hernandez. 

The band will load up the buses Thursday morning for the 22-hour bus ride to D.C.