I hope you’ve been enjoying your holiday season so far. Here in Rockford, we didn’t have a White Christmas, but the snow has hit us now. As I sit here looking out my window, across the snow covered Beattie Park and Rock River, I look back on what we’ve accomplished in 2015.

I’m so very thankful for the opportunities we’ve been able to provide for the young people in our programs. Thankful for the amazing new equipment trailer we were able to build. Thankful for all of our donors, volunteers (don’t know where we’d be without them), and board and committee members. Thankful for our students, staff, and the thousands of phans across the globe. I can’t possibly say this enough: THANK YOU!

But, if you know me, I have a hard time sitting still reminiscing of what we’ve done. It’s time to think of what we’re going to do next. I’m excited for the direction of our 2016 production and the new (and some returning) faces we have on staff!

As for our other programs, we want to add to our educational camps. It’s time to add a long-asked-for band director camp. We also want to start a local drum line here in the city of Rockford, to provide an avenue for the many kids here in our own city.

Of course, we’ll be producing our annual drum corps events in Rockford, DeKalb and Charleston, W.Va. But we’re also trying to build other markets and support those local band programs. Our show in Metamora, Ill. is in partnership with the Metamora Township High School marching band to help support its music program. In Waukesha, Wis, we’ve partnered with the Waukesha North High School Marching Band for a show that supports that school. Just as important, though, it’s an Open Class show, which helps provide those corps with another performance opportunity, which is sometimes difficult to come by for them.

So why the long-winded letter? Get to the point, Rick, right? Well, of course, a big part of my job is fundraising and to ask for your financial support to help make all this work. You are the true HEROES of this story. So the clear call to action: please consider making a year-end contribution. Any professional development person would probably shred this note to pieces. But what we do is so much different than your normal nonprofit. This is a very passionate activity, and so are all of us involved with it. There’s a reason. Forget about the scores and the standing ovations. It’s all about the life-changing experience we can provide. That’s where your help becomes so invaluable.

We had a financially tough year. Our produced events took a large loss. There was a monsoon-like storm (see video above) in Charleston before the show that kept people away. Metamora was a complete loss because it was a rainout. Our capital campaign for the new trailer was a complete success, but it took away from our other campaigns. Currently, our annual year-end campaign is short of the budget by $12,000.

Where does your donation go? It will help to keep what we have to charge for membership and educational camp fees down. Did you know that a member of the drum corps pays more than $3,000 to be in the Regiment, and that’s only a quarter of the actual cost to the organization? That’s where our fundraising comes in to help – to make up for the difference.

Your tax-deductible contribution will make a huge impact. Every little bit helps as we strive to provide a life-changing experience for the young people in our many programs.

For instance, a donation of $150 will…

  • Bring us 1.25% closer to our goal
  • Is 5% of the total cost of an average stop for the fleet at the gas station
  • Buy 2 days worth of milk (10 gallons), orange juice (6 gallons) and bread (15 loafs)

But don’t take my word for it – hear from some of the young people that have benefited from the Phantom Regiment:

My years at the Phantom Regiment provided me with an experience like no other organization ever has, and I will cherish that for the rest of my life! Not only have my parents, professors, colleagues and coworkers noticed a distinct change for the better in my personal traits and professional skill set, but the experience has also provided me with my closest friends in the whole world.”

– Jeremy Gruner, Trumpet 2013-15
Mahomet, Ill.

“On my half-decade journey with drum corps, Phantom Regiment was a irreplaceable support system driving my pursuit for excellence not only in the activity, but in school, work, and relationships. For five years I called this place home, and, even after aging out, I know it’s a place I can always find Phamily.”

– Devin Bruen, Color Guard 2010-11, 2013-14
White Lake, Mich.

“I am truly honored and thankful for the time I spent with the Phantom Regiment. It has done more for me as a performer and individual than I can simply put in words. The phenomenal instructional staff and truly inspiring members taught me how to perform at a level I never knew existed, as well as lessons to lead a better and more driven life outside of drum corps. Above all else, I gained a Phamily, and that is the most incredible thing anyone can have or be a part of.”

– Bridget Fleming, Euphonium 2014
Wheaton, Ill.
(Photo with brothers – Ryan, 2010-12 & Kevin, 2007-10)

“The Phantom Regiment not only gave me the three most exciting, intense, and rewarding summers I’ve ever had; It gave me experiences and skills that will resonate throughout the rest of my life. No other organization could have shaped me the way the Regiment did. SUTA”

– Sam Wildman, Quads 2013-2015
Coral Springs, Fla.


“One of the many reasons I love and appreciate the Phantom Regiment is the level of perseverance, confidence, and passion that I have been shown by every person in the organization. The staff members I have marched under are my idols, the members I have marched with are my best friends, and the summers are some of my greatest memories. I feel so fortunate that I was given the opportunity to be on the field for three summers so I can now be part of the Phamily for the rest of my life.”

– Christine Ghinder, Color Guard 2012, 2013-15
Akron, OH

The single most rewarding part of my job is reading these and seeing that we are making a difference. Being able to see these young people grow up in front of my eyes makes it all worthwhile.

Before the New Year arrives, I hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help continue the work we’re doing. Any amount is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your continued support!

Rick V.
Rick Valenzuela
Executive Director

From my family, and my extended phamily…we wish you a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year!!