The Illinois Valley Central High School Band has been known for decades to have parent volunteers that year after year go the extra mile.
Whether it was building props, fitting uniforms, designing and sewing color guard outfits and flags, cooking meals, fundraising or even driving the trucks, the jobs were always taken care of because it was all for our kids.
This past weekend, the IVC band lost a volunteer that gave 20 years of pride, passion, courage, dedication and love to thousands of kids from our community. Gail “Mama” Quinn was that amazing volunteer and her fight with cancer came to an end on Nov. 4, 2012.
Gail came to the program back in the early 1990s. Both sons, Michael (trombone) and Brian (snare drummer) were both in the band.
During that time, her husband Al and Gail became heavily involved with the program and began to volunteer for more than just a few odd jobs.
Al became the president of the Band Boosters and Gail became the treasurer. They gave countless hours poring over individual student accounts and laying the foundation for the boosters to become a non-profit organization.
Gail handled the taxes, all student accounts for trips, uniforms and even worked behind the scenes preparing bus sign ups, registration for band camps, finalizing chaperones for camp and trips allowing the band director to focus on the musical side of the program.
Quickly, Gail became the go-to Mom. She had an army of moms that made sure the uniforms were fitted, cleaned, measured and numbered, both concert and marching.
Gail also made sure that the flags were all sown; practice and performance flags as well as keeping inventory of all the shoes, black socks and uniform parts such as buttons, plumes, hats and sashes were all accounted for and cleaned.
Gail also made sure that there were plenty of parents to work at various fundraisers including the Band Bash and the raffle.
Gail was also working daily on future trips making sure room sign ups, flights, itineraries and all aspects of the trip were taken care of for everyone.
Gail made sure the treasurer’s report was current and that the monthly newsletter was edited thoroughly. She never missed a band booster meeting, even while going through radiation and chemotherapy; she made a visit to the band room on booster meeting nights.
Not only was Gail instrumental in the obvious jobs around the band room, but she was also an inspiration to thousands of kids.
Her contagious smile would illuminate the room as she talked about the IVC band.
She wanted every kid to experience what the band had to offer by persuading kids to give band a try because she saw the value of what it brought to her own family.
Page 2 of 3 - Over the two decades, she was able to see students persevere through tough times and become outstanding citizens in communities all across America. She was always encouraging the students to do their best because that was just what she was doing. She was what unconditional love looked like.
Several students would have that moment where it all seemed to hit all at once and she would be there to just give them a pep talk and hug. She knew what words to say and what those kids needed just at the right moment.
Even when she found out she had cancer, she was still encouraging kids to never give up on life and withstand the obstacles that may have caused even her to give up.
She was a woman that stood by those words and put them into practice. She never once put her own desires ahead of the success of the band. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, it didn’t stop her from keeping involved. She was still asking about the kid’s needs and even composed notes to tell them to do their best; she was thinking of them and letting them know she would soon be right back at it.
Gail and Al gave their all to the IVC band program and everyone with the program witnessed two people that sacrificed so much for so many.
This fall, Gail was nominated for the John Patrick Hughes National Parent/Booster volunteer award presented by Bands of America/Music for All.
Dozens of bands from across the nation submitted nominations. Up until last week, the committee was still undecided due to the fact they had a very hard choice to make. Gail was one a finalists. Even though Gail wasn’t selected as the final winner, she will still be honored and recognized at Bands of America’s National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this weekend.
This year’s band show seemed fitting to what Gail was going through personally.
Labyrinth was all about overcoming obstacles in one’s life and persevering through any negative comments or actions that stood in the way of coming out on top. Gail lived that life. We can now say she is on top looking down knowing that we all will see her again one day.
We will miss her greatly and the loss is immeasurable. She will always be remembered in our hearts.
The band will be wearing hearts on their uniforms in honor of Gail and also modifying the Pride and Performance award to be named in Al and Gail’s honor.
From the entire IVC band family past and present, to Gail and the entire Quinn Family, thank you, we love you and know we will be thinking of you every time we perform Ghostriders in the Sky.
Page 3 of 3 - Mama Quinn, you were simply the best.