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Mazda and Windward School Team Up to Support Victims of Genocide in Sudan

February 2007
 Filed under: MAZDA Car News | MAZDA Headlines

- Battle of the Bands Contest Brings Together High School Students and Entertainment Industry Executives to Raise Money for Victims of Genocide in the Sudan -

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- For a third consecutive year, Windward School's Battle of the Bands contest, sponsored by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7:15 p.m. at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles. Bands featuring students from local high schools around West Los Angeles will have the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of top entertainment industry executives while at the same time raising money to aid victims of Sudanese genocide.

Windward is an independent school located in West L.A. comprised of students ranging from grades 7-12. Following the aftermath of the "Rebel Wars" in Darfur, Windward students wanted to help victims of genocide and decided to organize a benefit concert to raise money. The students selected Direct Change, a charitable organization dedicated to building a hospital for treating the starved and ill victims in Sudan, to be the recipient of all proceeds generated from this year's concert. The founder of Direct Change and star of the newly released documentary "God Grew Tired of Us," John Dau, will also be at the concert. Last year's Battle of the Bands benefited the "LEAF in Schools and Streets" program that granted funds for instruments for students in New Orleans.

By partnering with Mazda, Windward students are confident that they will be able to truly impact the lives of Sudanese women, men and children suffering from the acts of genocide.
"Mazda is proud to sponsor such an incredible event," said Jim O'Sullivan, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. "These students exemplify Mazda's 'fast, fun and cool' mentality in their initiative and creativity that they have displayed in organizing this concert, and we are honored to aid them in their mission."

Along with serving as a corporate sponsor, Mazda will showcase a MAZDASPEED3 accessory vehicle in front of the El Rey Theater on Wilshire Boulevard. The MAZDASPEED3 is one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars in the world. Concert-goers will be able to interact with and view both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

"We're so grateful to Mazda for their generous support and making it possible for us to hold the Battle of the Bands event for the third year in a row," said Ann-Marie Hobbs, Middle School Dean of Students and Student Activities Coordinator at Windward. "This concert is an amazing example of students, not only from Windward, but from the West L.A. area, working together to help out in a global sense."

This student-organized benefit concert will highlight West L.A. native bands from more than five local schools, including Windward, Crossroads, Wildwood, Harvard-Westlake and Buckley. The five bands competing -- L'Overture, Harry Whittington, The Blame, Madison Grey, and The Irregars -- will musically battle it out in front of a panel of celebrity judges. This panel will include some of the entertainment industry's biggest names. The winner of the contest will receive tickets to Coachella Valley Music Festival and the opportunity to meet one-on-one with music executive, Russ Reiger.

Each band has a loyal fanbase, and the event will draw an audience of an expected 500 plus teenagers from the West L.A. area and industry professionals. Tickets will be 15 dollars at the door, and all ticket sale proceeds will go towards aiding victims of Sudanese genocide. Aside from a night of great music, the event is sure to bring out of some of the most fashionable, fresh and innovative teens and prove to be a resonating night of fun and charity.

Windward School is a not-for-profit, co-educational, college-preparatory day school founded in 1971 through the determined efforts of Shirley Windward, a well-known educator and writer. More information can be found at

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.

John Dau is a survivor of a 14 year journey from his home village in Duk County, Sudan in 1987 to his arrival in Syracuse, New York in 2001. He fled government troops seeking to convert or kill all males in his region of southern Sudan to Ethiopia, back to Sudan and then to a refugee camp in Kenya in 1994. During this journey of more than 1,000 miles and many years in refugee camps, he was one of the older boys who had to lead thousands of younger children in surviving violence and starvation. Brought to Syracuse, New York along with 140 other "Lost Boys of Sudan" in 2001, John pursued the American Dream. He brought his sister and mother from Sudan as well as his fiance whom he hopes to marry soon. While working 60 hours a week as a security guard, he completed his Associates Degree at Onondaga Community College and is pursuing a degree at Syracuse University in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. His life in the United States has been a remarkable story of cultural adaptation, building a sound family life and most of all as a human rights activist for the Lost Boys of Sudan in the City of Syracuse and the people of southern Sudan.

The organization that John has started is Direct Change which has solicited funds to build and operate Duk Lost Boys Clinic at Duk Payuel in Southern Sudan. Direct Change will build a clinic that will encourage and assist the sick, as they will no longer have to walk for 75 miles in search of health services. The organization will help build the clinic that will eventually help the treatment of simple disease such as guinea-worm, malaria, chicken pox, diarrhea, malnourishment, bilharzias, h-worm, kalazar and better provision for handling maternity services; immunization of other diseases affecting human beings. John has been the key player in raising more than $220,000 for the clinic even as he continues to work 60 hours a week to provide for his family and pay his bills.


For more information about the charity, Direct Change, visit .

For more info on the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us", visit .

For more info on the distributors of the film, visit .

Source: Mazda North American Operations

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