Financial barriers shouldn’t limit education

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sometimes there are stories so great that they basically write themselves. That was the case when we heard about Handley High School Band Director Mathew Goodman who ran from Roanoke to New Orleans from Dec. 5 to Dec. 18.

He did so because his school was selected to play on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He applied through Bowl Games of America and was chosen but soon learned it would cost about $80,000 for all chaperones, students and necessary instrument repair.

That number broke down to about $800 per student. No matter how much money anybody makes, that’s a good chunk of change to shell out.

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Goodman said that number was impossible to reach without having some help. But instead of just asking for handouts without doing anything, the band director had the fantastic, and what some would call far-fetched, idea one day when watching Forest Gump of all movies. He decided he would run across three states to raise money.

He said his first thought wasn’t to gain publicity for himself but to use the platform and coverage the run would receive to obtain funds to go to New Orleans.

“I didn’t want this great experience to be limited to just those kids who can afford it,” Goodman said. “I say this all the time, I truly think resources and opportunity in education should not be limited to a certain socioeconomic status.”

The first few days of the run allowed Goodman to come back to Roanoke to rest and ice his legs. Once he got to Selma, he said he started to get hotel rooms.

This is when the story gets even better. He said parents started to purchase hotel rooms for him, but then people he didn’t know started to lend a hand just because they appreciated what he was doing for education. Band directors from other schools provided accommodations and talked about collaboration between the two bands.

Goodman ran at least 21 miles each day, but at most he ran 57 miles. In the end, he raised about $30,000, cutting the cost of the trip in half for students.

We have nothing but great words about Goodman and his commitment to the band. The band is leaving Dec. 29 to head to New Orleans, and we hope they have a great time. They deserve it.

Some stories require journalists to find information and others just allow us to let the wonderful people in the area talk.

“I love my job, I love the kids and I love music,” Goodman said. “This wasn’t about me, and I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t think I taught the best kids in the world.

Have fun, Handley High on New Year’s Day and soak up the memories. Also, remember to thank your director for his dedication.