Valeria Ibarra loves marching band. Performing for others excites her, she said.
“Music is my life,” she said. “I’m so excited to do it for so many people.”
Ibarra, who was selected to perform with the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, has sold homemade salsa for the past couple of months to pay her way to New York City to participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Parade organizers say that three million spectators are expected to attend the Nov. 28 event, and 50 million viewers are expected to watch on TV.
Ibarra, a junior at Krum High School, must raise $1,500 by Oct. 13. She’s about three-fourths of the way to her goal and confident she’ll reach her target.
In one of her final attempts to raise the money needed to participate in the band, Ibarra will be selling her salsa at a booth, along with her parents, who will be selling tacos, at the annual Celebrate Krum event in the downtown area from 9 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Ibarra’s performances at previous band contests earned her an invitation to play with the Great American Marching Band, and she is one of 21 students invited from Texas to perform with the group that will include more than 220 top high school performers from across the country.
In an earlier interview, Ibarra, who plays trumpet, said she didn’t just want her parents to pay her way — she wanted to earn it.
Some might wonder what inspires Ibarra’s drive. In an August interview, she said it’s her “hard-working” mother, and to become the woman her mother is, she is going to have to earn what she wants and not be greedy.
Since sixth grade, Valeria has sold homemade salsa to fund her participation in church youth camp and a recent mission trip to New Mexico. For the current efforts, her parents have provided her with a loan for ingredients, and Ibarra plans to repay the loan and save money for her trip to New York.
Ibarra has sold salsa for $5 a jar to fund her trip, and she said every bit of support has helped. She said she’s had people who’ve purchased salsa give additional donations to her efforts.
“It’s definitely been a big support ... and a big help to raising money,” she said. “Every little extra dollar counts.”
Ibarra’s mother, Priscilla, summed up her daughter’s efforts in one word — “extraordinary.”
She wrote in an e-mail that the family delivered fliers and salsa samples to local car dealerships along Interstate 35 in Denton and Corinth in hopes of getting sponsorships, and a general sales manager sponsored her with his own personal funds, “a blessing in disguise.”
Lee Elementary School in Denton, where Valeria attended school from kindergarten through a portion of her fifth-grade year and where her passion for music began, requested a sign-up sheet to help their former student, Priscilla Ibarra wrote.
Lorena Salas, principal at Lee Elementary, said Valeria wrote a letter to the teachers and administrators at the school about what she was attempting to do.
Salas said she shared Valeria’s story with her staff and wanted to celebrate a former student.
As a result, several teachers remembered her and the staff ordered 40 jars of salsa.
“We’re proud,” Salas said. “She was raised as a Panther.”
Having the strength to keep her efforts going and staying up late at night to make salsa to raise funds has been hard, Valeria Ibarra said, but what’s kept her motivated are her parents, Priscilla and Felipe, and God.
Valeria said she’s learned from the experience “that you’re never going to get everything in the palm of your hands. You’re definitely going to have to work for the things you want the most.”
“It’s definitely been an experience, something like I’ve never done before,” Valeria said of the efforts to raise funds. “I’m just so blessed to have an opportunity like this. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.
HOW TO HELP
To place an order for salsa, call 940-390-9555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also support Valeria Ibarra by making a donation to an account established in her name at Northstar Bank.