Arts & Culture

Argo Athletic Band drums up support with $50,000 gift

The University of West Florida has announced a $50,000 gift to the Argo Athletic Band from The Russenberger Foundation. Inspired by a passion for music, this donation will grow and support one of UWF’s newest traditions.

The Argo Athletic Band played as guests arrived to the home of the Russenbergers for the check presentation on Monday, Nov. 26.

“It’s a special moment when community members appreciate the special spirit at UWF and choose to support our students on their journey,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “The Argo Athletic Band, while traditional in practice, is new to UWF and has already captured our hearts. We are very grateful for the support from the Russenberger Foundation.”

A check presentation was held at an event in the music parlor of the Russenbergers’ home on Monday, Nov. 26, where the band performed and guests were encouraged to make contributions to the program. The Russenbergers’ gift will be used to meet a variety of needs for the band including scholarships, instruments, uniforms, potential travel costs and more.

“I saw an article in the newspaper and thought ‘I would love to help and see the band grow,’” said Ray Russenberger. “I was in the band in high school and know that bands often get overlooked. Music is something that stays with you for life.”

Ray and Valerie Russenberger are both musicians who are known for their patronage of the arts. Their philanthropic support of theatre and music led them to establish the Russenberger Foundation in 1997. The couple enjoys performing together – Ray plays the guitar, piano, five-string banjo and drums and Valerie is a vocalist. The Russenbergers have a history of support through service and gifts to music and theatre in the community. Valerie serves on the Pensacola Little Theatre board, where she also performs. The Russenbergers have also donated to the Pensacola Children’s Chorus and the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on UWF’s Pensacola campus.

“It has been an exciting year for the Department of Music and the Argo Athletic Band,” said Dr. Sheila Dunn, chair of the Department of Music. “There is nothing like hearing our fight song and alma mater performed live by our incredible students who hail from departments all across campus including psychology, engineering and communication arts. Music enriches their lives as students, and I know music will continue to distinguish these young professionals as they begin their careers. The Russenbergers believe in our students and the Argo Athletic Band and have made a transformational gift that will help to get us marching in 2020. Their kindness and generosity is inspirational.”

The Argo Athletic Band formed this fall and played in the stands during the UWF home football games, entertaining the crowd with a more traditional atmosphere. The band will also play at UWF basketball games this spring and performs at select University functions. In its inaugural year, the band has nearly 60 members, representing every UWF college. Membership of the band is open to any UWF student with a music background.

For more information on the Argo Athletic Band, visit