Late 12-year-old boy, French horn player honored with uniform fundraiser
Miller family, who lost son in hiking tragedy, start GoFundMe to purchase new uniforms for BMHS marching band
Twelve-year-old Robby Miller loved playing the French horn in the Glassford Hill Middle School Band.
He picked the somewhat unusual instrument as an elementary school student. The outgoing, smart and emerging musical talent looked forward to when he could play with the Bradshaw Mountain High School Performing Bears Marching Band and Color Guard.
The summer of 2015 between his seventh- and eighth-grade year, tragedy befell the Miller family. On a hiking trip with his grandfather, Thomas Gillepsie, in Gila Bend, Arizona, Robby died of apparent heat exposure while attempting to get help for his fallen grandfather; he was carrying the car keys in his hand.
The hiking tragedy robbed the Miller family of a beloved father, grandfather and son; Robby is the second of the Millers’ five children.
This year, Robby’s younger brother Justin is a freshman with the marching band, and one of his instruments is his brother’s chosen instrument, the French horn.
Active with the Bradshaw Mountain Performing Bears PTO, Robby’s parents Rob and Jenn Miller became aware that the band is in desperate need of new uniforms. The used uniforms they now have are two decades old and can’t be replaced.
Since Robby’s death, the Miller family has wanted to find a suitable way to honor their son’s memory, a boy active in the Boy Scouts who loved the outdoors, soccer, riding his scooter and playing the French horn his parents were able to find for him when he opted for that instrument over more standard choices. This uniform project seemed the perfect marriage between their son’s passion for band and the high school marching band’s need for up-to-date uniforms with enough to accommodate an expanding band operation, the Millers said as part of a GoFundMe fundraising post.
With an eye toward purchasing 125 new uniforms in time for the 2023-24 marching band season, the Millers launched the GoFundMe fundraiser a week ago and have been advertising the project that is already generating some business sponsors. A uniform style has been selected and publicized; each jacket will be adorned with a small patch that bears Robby’s name, graduation year (2020) and an image of a French horn. The uniforms cost $32,000 with a 50% deposit required by April 1. As of Friday, March 10, the Go Fund Me account has generated some $2,000 in donations.
One donor, Shelley Fields, said she is a French horn player with the Prescott POPS and Central Arizona Concert Band, and is inspired by the Miller’s generosity. In her comments, Fields said she likes to think that Robby “might have been playing an upcoming concert with us,” much like how other middle and high school students currently do.
Bradshaw Mountain High School Marching Band Director Phil Blackwell hailed the project as much-needed, and welcomes the community’s participation to make this memorial fundraiser a reality.
For Jenn, these uniforms will be more than just another marching band costume — they are a visual, lasting tribute to their beloved, French horn-playing son.
“This way (Robby) will be playing with the band every time they are worn,” she concluded.
To donate to this fundraiser, visit the GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/da0bc6df or checks can be mailed to the Bradshaw Mountain Performing Bears PTO at 6000 E Long Look Dr., Prescott Valley, 86314. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Jenn Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Nanci Hutson by email at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.
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