“Band Donor Day is a simple little thank you, and I like it,” says Margaret “Peggy” Lescrenier (’66 BSE). The Lescrenier family has been generous to many UW campus units and Peggy has been thanked in many ways–and she hasn’t missed a single Band Donor Recognition Day since the event began in 1993.
On Band Donor Recognition Day, the Wisconsin Marching Band plays their half-time show, and then members come to the sidelines to invite the sponsor of their position to come onto the Camp Randall field to stand beside them while “Varsity” is performed. Individual donors and families can sponsor or “adopt” a position in the band with a one-time endowment gift, which pays for cleaning, repair and replacement of instruments, uniforms, rain gear, etc. when needed for the student in the position. Typically, new instruments and uniforms are needed once every seven to ten years.
The Wisconsin Marching Band is cherished by its fans and valued by its University. UW Foundation Senior Director of Development Rudie Flietner recalls that Band Donor Day began in 1993 to build awareness of the need for private support for the band. At that time, 34 of the positions had been sponsored. Band supporters stepped up and, today, all the positions and the drum major have been adopted. More than 350 band donors took the field with their students this year.
Band supporters were also generous when the idea of constructing a dedicated practice field for the band—complete with artificial turf—was proposed. The outpouring of gifts resulted in the 2009 creation the only field in the country with artificial turf specifically for a college marching band.
Is this five minutes of thanks meaningful? Peggy Lescrenier says it is. “When I was in the band, women were not allowed to march,” she said. “Band Donor Day is always a big kick, and for a few minutes on the field, I feel like a big shot.”