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October 2013 Check Presentation

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Over 55 DBOT

A pulsating beat that uplifts the soul with its exciting, infectious rhythm, or a breathtaking melody that engulfs the heart with joy. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that comes from mastering a skill. The warm camaraderie of people united by their passion for this wonderful artistry.

All of these epitomize the mesmerizing power of creating music and how it transcends boundaries of age, time, background and culture. When individuals unite, harmoniously interacting to form this magical formula for success, you have what it takes to make a band – and an educational community – truly soar.

For twenty-five years, Polk State College Professor and band director Roger Hewitt and his Over 55 Show Band have struck all the right chords to thrill audiences and embody the lifelong spirit of learning, growing and contributing to the arts and our community.

And through the power of their music and their extraordinary generosity, they have passed along the joy of music from the older generation to the younger, nurturing young talent and transforming lives by raising funds through ticket sales to benefit scholarships for music students at Polk State College.

Performing an average of twelve shows a year, the organization has donated approximately $240,000 to the Polk State College Foundation over the years to help talented music students achieve their dream of a college degree, with many pursuing a career in music.

Hewitt, who conceived of and formed the group in 1988, expressed what it means to them to be able to help students fulfill their dreams of a higher education.

“It gives us another reason for our being!” he said. “We’re so pleased to be able to do this, to support the college in all its endeavors in all the ways we can.”

“The ability to provide music scholarships for kids is so important,” he added. “It helps them advance their talent, their career, takes their financial burdens off of them a little bit, so they can concentrate on becoming the best musician they possibly can be!”

Just as life-changing as their generous financial contributions are the personal connections the group has made with aspiring young musicians. This includes inviting the youths to join them making music together.

The results are magical for both generations, as Katy Hewitt, Roger’s wife whose hard work plays an instrumental role in the group’s success, will attest to.

“We all enjoyed it so much, and they thanked Roger for the opportunity to sit next to them and play. Hopefully someday they’ll be in a big band, too,” Katy said. “And one year they gave the band a plaque that said, ‘You are our stars!’ which I thought was so special,” she added.

Showing students – and the community at large – that individuals can share their talents for a lifetime, and have a wonderful time doing it, is a deeply inspirational message the group imparts with every joyful note they play.

“It’s been so much fun! Learning is a lifetime endeavor. Music starts at a very young age, and it doesn’t end after college. I think this is one of many bands out there that provides a source, a possibility for kids to continue as adults and all through their lives. Our oldest person is eighty-seven, and still going strong,” said Hewitt.

On October 28, 2013 at a check presentation ceremony at the College’s District Board of Trustees meeting, the Over 55 Show Band was honored for its extraordinary generosity and dedication to Polk State College and its students. In attendance representing the Over 55 Show Band were Roger and Katy Hewitt, as well as Roger’s sister and brother-in-law Barbara and John Spano, and a longtime friend of the band, David Case. 

“The College has always been very positive towards us, programming and doing various things, getting people onto the campus for performances,” said Roger. “I thank you, the Foundation, and especially Dr. Holden, for your help and your support over all these years!” said Roger.

Brent Parrish, member of the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors, conveyed to Hewitt and the group the College’s heartfelt thanks.

Calling Roger Hewitt the group’s “fearless leader,” Parrish praised Hewitt and the band for its wonderful work and its life-transforming generosity.

“Roger, Katy, Barbara, John and Dave, on behalf of my fellow members of the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors, the College’s District Board of Trustees, and the students who ultimately benefit from your generosity, please accept our tremendously deep gratitude for your support that has truly transformed many, many lives of our students and entertained thousands and thousands in our community,” said Parrish.

Pictured left to right: Greg Littleton, Brent Parrish, Roger Hewitt, Dan Dorrell, Dr. Eileen Holden, Rick Garcia, Linda Pilkington and Mark Turner.