Rockford Music Academy student gifted scholarship through Hard Rock Casino

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 4:56 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Since its opening, the Rockford Casino - A Hard Rock Opening Act has created hundreds of jobs for locals, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

Now, one donation box on the casino floor is supporting charities across the region—and the selection for the month of January is music to our ears.

“Hard rock is synonymous with music and any organization that fosters local music and local area musicians, we thought this was a great opportunity,” said Mark Johnson, director of gaming operations for the casino.

Every month, Hard Rock collects the vouchers donated in the box and gifts the total amount to a local charity.

January’s donations, which came in at around $2,000, were used to support the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI), which then gave that money to the Music Academy in Rockford.

“It’s our goal to allow all students to thrive musically and personally. Regardless of age, regardless of ability, and regardless of circumstance,” said Laura Eakman, executive director of the Academy.

One of the recipients of this scholarship is Auburn High School student and Academy member, Sarah Pearl Anderson.

“I was doing violin for a while but then I got the RAMI scholarship and that allowed me to try out the piano which I am still doing today,” she said.

Anderson was born without the ability to hear, but when she was five years old, one doctor changed that.

“He gave me an experimental process to try to get my hearing back and it worked. He was so excited that he gave me his kid’s violins for me to start out with,” Anderson told 23 News.

Anderson thinks music will pull on her heartstrings for the rest of her life. She encourages anyone of any age to give it a try.

“To people that think that they didn’t start early enough, you know there’s always a community for someone out there, so it doesn’t really matter what your background is, you can just come right in,” Anderson said.

Anderson says she plans on graduating from Auburn and moving on to college, where she wants to double major in Music and another concentration, forever keeping her violin close by.

The casino board picks a different charity in the area each month. To donate, just find that box on the casino floor.