John Marshall High School Steel Drum Festival Will Aid Ohio County Teacher With Breast Cancer

Photo Provided The 2018 John Marshall High School Steel Drum Festival was the first of its kind, drawing 300 people. Band director Tracey Filben hopes to draw a similar crowd today to raise funds for a local teacher battling breast cancer.

Organizers are hoping for a “Pink Out” at John Marshall High School this afternoon, as nearly 100 performers from the area will be on display at the John Marshall Steel Drum Festival.

JMHS’s band will be joined by performers from Wheeling Middle, Sherrard Middle and Wheeling Park High schools, West Liberty University and local professional band Steel Cassa. This is the second year for the festival, which will be held as a fundraiser for Ohio County Schools teacher Heather Schultz, who is battling breast cancer.

JMHS band director Tracey Filben said Schultz is a family friend of hers and a friend of the Marshall County band.

“She is a kindergarten teacher in Ohio County, and her daughter, Faith, is a senior at Wheeling Park High School and performs in their steel drum band,” Filben said. “Faith and my daughter, Kailey, attended Wheeling Middle School together, but we’ve also known them since the girls were little. My husband teaches in Ohio County. We’re Facebook friends. It’s a small world in the Ohio Valley.

“We’ve been aware of what they’ve been going through,” Filben continued. “My husband has colon cancer, so we’ve been sitting in the oncology waiting room together many times. She’s been dealing with this for over a year, had many treatments and is now traveling to Cleveland for whatever treatment they can provide at this time. … She has a really good attitude — she maintains that she’s going to fight this. She has a 2-year-old, and her kids run the gamut from 2 to 18, so she has a lot on her plate being a mom, a wife, a teacher and a friend.”

Filben said she knows how expensive long-term cancer treatments can be, between the treatments themselves and travel expenses such as lodging and meals, so she hopes the fundraiser will help offset the costs for Schultz.

The music event begins at 2 p.m. today at the JMHS gymnasium. There is an admission fee.

Filben invites attendees to wear pink in support of Schultz and noted that pink ribbons — and pink ribbon cookies — will be available during the festival.

“This is a regional thing,” Filben said. “We’ll have proceeds from the tickets, we’ll have the concession stand, a 50/50 raffle, all sorts of ways to raise funds to donate to Heather. … We hope people will wear pink or pink ribbons. The food prep class has made sugar ribbons in the shape of the pink ribbons. We’re really trying to involve a lot of different departments.”

Filben expects a turnout of a few hundred people, with the event concluding with a group finale covering “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.

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