Oak Grove High School

South Bay Band Director Biking to Make Up for Fundraising Lost to COVID-19

Chris Moura has been band director at San Jose's Oak Grove High School for 25 years

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Chris Moura says he has solved many problems he's faced over the years as a band director not with a baton in his hand but with his bottom on a bicycle.

"I’ve figured out some of my biggest issues with the program on the bike," Chris said.

The Oak Grove High School band director, who was a competitive cyclist in college, says long bike rides are not only a stress release for him but allow him time to think up solutions to complex problems.

For Chris' latest ride, though, he's not thinking about a problem, he's trying to solve it.

Chris is riding his bike 420 miles, from the campus of his alma mater, UCLA, to Oak Grove, to raise money to make up the funds his program has lost due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"It’s something I can do," Chris said.

Chris came to Oak Grove in 1995. He and his late wife, Teresa, built the band and color guard programs into champions. Such work, though, comes with a cost. In order to perform, travel, and compete at an elite level, the program needed to raise tens of thousands of dollars every year.

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down large gatherings and events this year, Oak Grove's biggest fundraisers were among them.

"Which typically raise between $25,000 and $30,000," Chris said. "So, we're way behind."

So, Chris has taken it upon himself to make the difference up himself. He left UCLA on Monday and will take six days to complete the journey. It is a route he has ridden before, so he is confident he can complete it.

"This is what I want to do. It’s the program my wife and I created, just keeping it going," Chris said.

Chris said he knows that the program will recover eventually no matter what he does this year, but for the students in the program now, eventually is too late. He wants to make sure that as soon as it is safe to restart their performances and competitions, his program can afford it.

"They only get four years to do what they want to do," he said. "I put myself in their position and I keep pushing the pedals."

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