Posted by Dale Buss on April 23, 2012 05:05 PM
You've got a city in such bad shape financially that it's being dictated to by the state. A school system in utter tatters, with perhaps the worst yet to come. A heroic and adulated mayor laid low by health issues in the midst of it. A poster child for urban decay. Yes, Detroit.
So what better place than the Motor City for a genuine feel-good story to arise? Consider how Ford and the United Auto Workers are jointly pledging $100,000 to Detroit's Martin Luther King High School Jazz and Marching Band so that the kids can take a trip to the Summer Olympics in London and perform around London.
The Ford/UAW co-sponsorship isn't the last chapter; the band still needs to raise about an additional $140,000 so that its 50 members can go to London this summer and show their stuff at various venues, though not at the Olympics per se. But it's certainly more than a great start.
Band members had raised about $30,000 in grassroots efforts before Ford and the union — which actually have enjoyed the best relationship among any of the Detroit Three automakers over many years — stepped forward together with a surprise donation.
"What I like about threm is they're hustling for their own money, selling peanuts and M&Ms," Jimmy Settles, the UAW's VP at Ford, commented to Detroit Free Press. "They're hard working."
Not only that, but the MLK band has a track record that bodes well: They performed in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics after months of fundraising netted them more than $400,000 to send 90 students and 20 chaperones to China to represent their hometown and school.
It isn't clear yet what the band will play for the Brits, if the kids can raise the rest of the funds to make the trip. Assuming they do, they'll fit right in with all the musical merrymaking in London this summer.