SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - In February, it seemed like the West Rowan Middle School band's dream of playing in a competition in Williamsburg had been stolen, just like $1000's allegedly taken by the band boosters former treasurer.
The Rowan Sheriff's Office charged Chantel Reliford, 32, with six counts of felony embezzlement of funds by a public trustee. Investigators say Reliford stole more than $14,000 from the organization.
According to investigators, Reliford later made admissions to using the band boosters money for her own purchases. The investigation found that the band booster credit card was used at several ATM's for cash withdrawals, including locations in Atlanta, GA, and Fayetteville.
The card was used in restaurants and retail shops, and other places "where the band would not normally use the card."
The boosters believed in the old adage that "the show must go on," and immediately went about replacing the lost funds.
"Within 30 days we raised nearly $30,000," said band parent and booster Amy Mitchell.
The band boosters set up a Go Fund Me page, several fund raisers were held at local businesses, and the band held a special yard sale and community day.
After learning about the criminal case, WorldStrides, the company that is sponsoring the trip, pledged to match the boosters' contributions two to one. The company covered the $9,000 bill.
This weekend, the Bulldog Band made the trip, and made quite an impression. Mitchell explained in a Facebook post:
"Congratulations on a job well done!! Worldstrides on Stage Heritage Festival, we came away with an excellent rating! Even more than the rating, we are coming home with newly formed friends, new found respect, and a better understanding of what exactly this trip is about. Yes, it is about the competition and a learning experience, but more than that it is a chance for everyone to get to know each other better, form a tighter knit band and bulldog family, and learn to step outside of all the seriousness of school and have some fun! We have had a wonderful group and a wonderful time! Congratulations to Jackson Harris for his Worldstrides on stage Ovation award!! So proud of each and everyone of these students, thank you Nathan, Daniel,Mr. McCoy, all of our chaperones, parents, and supporters!! Parents be proud of yourselves, this group has truly been very well behaved and a pleasure to travel with!
In an earlier post, Mitchell also expressed gratitude for all of those who made the trip possible, saying "Thanks for all the prayers, directors, administration, chaperones,bus driver,parents, hotel staff, and God himself for this wonderful day."