Since agreeing to participate, the historically black Alabama college found itself struggling to raise the $75,000 necessary to travel to D.C. and participate.
Enter a hopeful solution: a GoFundMe campaign.
Hoping to crowdsource the necessary funds, the small school took to the internet to meet the fundraising goal, and did they ever.
In just 14 days, with the help of 10,690 individuals across the country, the school has raised $619,669. That’s over eight time the $75,000 goal.
What put the college over the top? An appearance from school president Dr. Billy C. Hawkins on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News last Thursday night.
“Some alumni have come at me pretty hard; they don’t want the band to participate and say I am a disgrace to my race,” Hawkins told O’Reilly during the segment. “This is about the students having an opportunity to participate in this national ceremony.”
Following Hawkins’ appearance and O’Reilly’s plea to his viewers to help make the trip possible money poured into the site in hopes of making the trip a reality for the roughly 230 band members.
“Congratulations to The Marching Tornadoes and President Hawkins!,” commented a man who donated $100 on the page. “I look forward to seeing you on television Friday! Make Alabama proud!”
In a Friday news conference, Hawkins called the response “probably the single-greatest fundraising effort” for the school.
The band is still taking donations.