REGINA – A trip to the Chicago Blues Festival for a group of Regina musicians with intellectual disabilities has been saved. It’s all thanks to generous donors in the Regina community.
Since November, the Best Buddies Blues Band has been raising money for a trip to Chicago next week to attend the festival and also perform.
However just this past week, the tour organizer Bert Yakichuk learned that Amtrak was cancelling their train tickets from Minot to Chicago due to repairs to the track.
Yakichuk says many of the students are physically unable to endure a 24-hour bus ride so the group’s only option now is to fly.
“This is a band. They’ve worked together for an entire year. We want them to stay together and all go together. We would really like to take the group and let them fly from Regina,” said Yakichuk.
The group, however, didn’t have enough money for flights.
“It’s impossible for many of the individuals to pay the difference for airfare. We’ve done the fundraising for everything else. We budgeted for everything else,” said Yakichuk. “But we didn’t anticipate Amtrak, out of the blue, just cancelling all service.”
Yakichuk says the students need $25,000 to make up the shortfall. So, he reached out to Global News to get the word out. We did so on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and by 9 p.m. more than enough donors had come forward to fund the trip.
Rawk Entertainment was the first to kick off the donations with $5000. And Yakichuk says his phone kept ringing all night.
The group will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss travel plans. They will probably have to use various airlines to get the large group there on time, but Yakichuck says it’s a small problem in comparison to cancelling the trip.
“They’ve been looking forward to this for an entire year. This is a big event in their lives.”
Contact Bert Yakichuk at 306-551-2558 to donate.