Deployed 82nd CAB soldier helps daughter's band win $25K grant
Posted December 23, 2011
Cameron, N.C. — Christopher Walker might be deployed to Afghanistan with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, but he helped his daughter's high school band get new instruments.
Earlier this year, Walker, a Blackhawk maintenance test pilot, submitted an idea to the Pepsi Refresh project in hopes of getting the Union Pines High School marching band new instruments.
Walker found out while he was deployed that the idea made the cut and was up for online voting in November.
"I must have spent at least six to seven hours every day sending emails and Facebook messages to other groups that had ideas in the November voting period," he said.
On Friday, the Pepsi Refresh Project officially announced that the idea finished in the top 15 and would earn a $25,000 grant to replace the instruments, which are more than 15 years old.
Walker said via email that he was thankful to the school's administration who helped get the word out about voting.
"Each day, the school made announcements and teachers allowed the students to pull out their cell phones and send in text votes for us. That really helped boost our vote totals," he said.
Walker even reached out online to other groups in North Carolina who had ideas going up for vote in December. He said the final voting hours were stressful, and he often woke up in the middle of the night wanting to check the results.
Walker said they received a lot of support from the National Inclusion Project and Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects, two Triangle-based groups who also had ideas up to voting in November.
"When I woke up (the day after voting closed), I had an email from Pepsi saying we were a finalist and finished No. 8. I must have screamed louder with excitement than I thought because one of the other guys in my building came running out of his room asking, 'What the heck was going on?'" Walker said.
Within a few weeks, Union Pines band boosters will get their first installment of $12,500 from Pepsi, and they will place the first order for new instruments.
Walker said he wished he could be there, and hopes the school takes plenty of photos to send to him.
It was the second time Walker submitted the idea. Last year, the idea failed to win enough online votes.
"Thousands of people from all different social and economic backgrounds all came together for one purpose and one dream and made it happen. I wish we could do this for all the other major issues in the U.S. and the world," Walker said.