Band photographer ensures support for years to comeKSU
|Leon “Red” Skelton shot
nearly 500 pictures a game of the Pride of Wildcat Land, K-State’s
marching band, and cheerleaders. He recently established the Red and
Elaine Skelton Marching Band Student Staff Scholarship to give financial
aid to students who serve as managers or staff for the bamd. (Photo: KSU
At every football game,
photographers line the field trying to get the perfect shot of Kansas State
University athletes in action. One man, Leon “Red” Skelton, made it his mission
to document the efforts of another team on the field — the Pride of Wildcat
Land, K-State’s marching band. For 15 years, Skelton shot almost 500 pictures a
game of the band and cheerleaders, giving the photos to band director Frank
Tracz to distribute to the students. Now Skelton is helping the students in
another way — scholarships.
He recently established the Red and Elaine
Skelton Marching Band Student Staff Scholarship to give financial aid to
students who serve as managers or staff for the K-State Marching Band. The
scholarship is funded through a bequest in his will.
“There is one
important aspect that differentiates this scholarship from others created to
benefit the marching band — this one benefits the ‘muscle’ team, the group that
packs, moves and arranges equipment,” explained Gordon Dowell, gift planning
officer for the KSU Foundation. “They work hard to help the band look and sound
great, but don’t get the recognition or crowd admiration that the on-field
musicians receive. Having known Red for years, the scholarship’s eligibility
criteria reflect his work ethic and dedication to ‘the product.’”
scholarship is in addition to another scholarship program Skelton helped
establish some five years ago with band director Tracz. The Marching Pride
Scholars program awards scholarships to third and fourth year members of the
“We get a better band because we get students who are steady, who
aren’t going to quit,” said Skelton. “Those kids work awfully hard. Some work
outside jobs to pay for college, and they were giving a lot to K-State. After
getting to know the kids over the years, they deserved something for their
loyalty and hard work and for themselves.”
Through this program, Tracz
awards a $500 scholarship to all third and fourth year members of the band, and
the number of recipients goes up every year. In 2014, nearly 150 scholarships
were awarded, helping students stay in the band longer.
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