Reflections ... Susan, Donations, and Remembering

Susan Erben Cadets Tuition Assistance Fund to be established

It’s Tuesday morning and I have written quite a bit about Susan Erben, her tragic death, and the impact upon myself personally and all of Youth Education in the Arts, including The Cadets. 

The services are as noted Wednesday and Thursday, June 30th and July 1st, as noted below: 

Susan’s wake will be held on Wednesday, June 30 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Casey Funeral Home, 350 Slosson Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10314. 

A Mass will be held on Thursday, July 1 at 10 a.m. at Saint Peter’s Church, 53 Saint Marks Place, Staten Island, N.Y., 10301. 

For more information on Casey Funeral Home, go to, or call (718) 447-4242. 

For further information on Saint Peter’s Church, call (718) 727-2672. 

But as life continues, the reality of the world also continues. The Cadets are on the road, and money has to be raised in order to fund the fuel, food and other needs of The Cadets. The ANNUAL CAMPAIGN is not finished, Summer Campaigns were in planning, and there is much, much more to do. As I have stated on many occasions, The Cadets have the most generous giving club, the Maroon and Gold Club, in the country. It is our salvation. And of course, we need to continue the efforts Sue had carried on. 

For the short term, I will be working with Bill Speakman, the current board chair of Youth Education in the Arts, to create the letters, the campaign, the mailers, the emails etc., to attract the $100,000 still to be raised between now and the end of the season. And yes, that’s a good deal of support. 

But, at the same time, as will be announced in a coming letter, The Cadets will create a Tuition Assistance Program for the Cadets membership in the name of Susan Erben. The fund will be announced in September, and I personally have committed $2,500 to launch this effort. The fund will be designated for tuition assistance only, and will be managed through the Cadets and a committee that will review requests from members.  There will be much to discuss here, as the tricky part of scholarship funds is that the money donated to such a fund does not assist the Cadets, but rather, the members. The cause is noble … the reality is that without the $300,000 of individual donations contributed to The Cadets each year by such fine folks … we would be in trouble. Big trouble. 

That said, Susan constantly was talking to me about the need for such a fund, and although waiting for her passing to institute is upsetting to me, indeed, this is a way that Susan, and all she did, and all she set in motion, can be remembered. She loved the kids in The Cadets; I think she had a soft spot for the young people who paid for tour on their own; and well, she wanted to help. She felt we needed to help. And this fund - the Susan Erben Cadets Tuition Assistance Fund - will go a long way towards providing an avenue for hard working Cadets to receive ASSISTANCE towards fulfilling their dream of being a Cadet. 

Again, launching of the fund is planned for early September with the first checks written in behalf of members in May or June of 2011 for the summer of the 2011 season.

We hope to have details at the Aug. 8 for the Clifton Show as well as the Cadet’s Hall of Fame reception preceding the banquet. 

And in closing .. 

Many of us know Susan from her work over the past year and a half. Her tenacity in generating donations and support became noteworthy in a short period of time. She believed in the cause, and she, like me, was stunned that alumni, or fans, or ticket buyers would not support an organization that gives and gives and gives … for so many years!  

But, I remember the early days. Sue and I were dating, she as a student at NYU and me as the 23 year old assistant director of the Cadets. She took me to the Village, she helped me move into a place Don Angelica was subletting, only to have all of my personal belongings stolen right from my car while we were inside the apartment, and eventually, she and I lived together in Teaneck, N.J., along with George Zingali, Marc Sylvester, Jim Prime. She was a girlfriend, a den mother, and my assistant in trying to figure out how to run The Cadets. 

She helped with record keeping, souvenirs, marketing, driving, loading trucks, cooking, and even teaching now and then. She was the glue that held The Cadets together, and me … at least a little! It was a remarkable time. It was a dream. And today, that dream has brought us The Cadets and Youth Education in the Arts … 30-years older and a few thousand members more blessed!  

Happy show day to all! I hope you get to Trenton this evening for Drum Corps - An American Tradition! And if not, keep an eye on the mail and email. We are going to need your assistance to make a miracle for the 2010 Cadets.


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