Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Promoting Patriotism Through Music

Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band performances have brought people to tears, stimulated long-dormant memories and evoked a strong sense of patriotism.

“We try to bring music to people who are unable to get out and see this kind of concert. That is one of the things we take great pride in.” – Brad Schmidt, Veterans Concert Band member and schedule coordinator

Bell Employee

John Kuhn, Wealth Advisor



Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band

The Need

With many members who are also military veterans, the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band’s mission is to promote patriotism through music.

The band plays every Thursday night from September through May, either practicing or in concert. Performing roughly 40 concerts a year in communities within 100 miles of Fargo-Moorhead, their concerts include Memorial Day services, Veterans Day celebrations and welcome-home events for the WDAY Honor Flight. They also perform in long-term care centers where people might otherwise be unable to attend a full concert.

This fall, the band will perform a special concert for the North Dakota Veterans Home’s 125th anniversary, and they are working on a special trip to play for the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

Band members are all volunteers. Because concerts are always free and open to the public, the organization relies on donations to pay for music, uniforms, insurance, advertising and transportation.

The Impact

Over the years, the band members have seen some incredibly heart-warming moments from their chairs, such as a veteran who stood on one leg to show his love for his country as the band played God Bless America. Or a woman who lived in a memory care unit and was unresponsive to anything or anyone – that is, until she listened to a concert with a smile on her face, tapping her feet and hands to the music.

“Somewhere, somehow, our music reached a part or her memory that brought her joy,” Brad remarks.

Inspired by his son, Travis, an air traffic controller in the U.S. Marines, and his father, Vern, a U.S. Navy veteran and retired high school music director who plays tuba for the Veterans Concert Band, John Kuhn donated his Pay It Forward funds to the band.

“I started attending their concerts 10 years ago when my dad joined the band,” John notes. “When you’re at a concert, and you see the raw emotion from the people in the crowd who get to stand up and be recognized for their service, it’s a shot of patriotism not only for the participants but also the musicians.”

Brad Schmidt, Veterans Concert Band member and schedule coordinator, says the band couldn’t perform its mission without the kindness and generosity of others.

“For John to be so considerate of the band by sharing his Pay It Forward donation, he obviously follows in his dad’s footsteps,” Brad exclaims. “Bell’s Pay It Forward program is surreal.”

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