It was a highlight of Eric Funches’ career and a moment he said he will never forget.
Funches was the choir director at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School in 2016 when, on the day he had told his students he was leaving due to health reasons, his class found out they would be performing with the rock band Foreigner at the Hard Rock Live in Biloxi after winning a contest.
“I’m all about making positive memories with children and this was a moment in time that they will always remember,” Funches said. “I recommend every school in the area make the effort to enter this contest.”
Not only did the band sing with Foreigner in May 2016, but vocalist Kelly Hansen brought Funches out on stage and presented him with a guitar signed by the band members.
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“I was literally in tears after it was over with,” he said. “It was like 20 years of teaching school had come to an end and I was given an unexpected retirement party and the guitar was my parting gift — it was like God was telling me that I could leave my job in peace.”
Funches lives with acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that causes the pituitary gland to create too much growth hormone. He said he is feeling better these days than he was in the spring of 2016.
“I’m doing really well — I’m taking some supplements that have helped with my blood pressure and I’m not having the bad headaches like I used to have,” Funches said.
Your school’s chance to win
Foreigner will be back at the Hard Rock Live in Biloxi on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tickets for the show start at $60 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
And once again, the band wants a local school choir to sing with them on stage.
The Sun Herald and Foreigner are partnering for the second year on the Sing With Foreigner contest. The winner of the contest will sing “I Want to Know What Love Is” with Foreigner at the Hard Rock show. The winning choir will also receive $500 for their music department.
The contest is open to any school choir in South Mississippi. To enter, send a video of your school’s choir singing “I Want to Know What Love Is” or a song of your choosing. The winning school can send up to 25 choir members and six chaperones to the show. Regardless of the size of the choir, a maximum of 25 students can attend the show.
The video must be at least two minutes long and have a title credit at the beginning with the choir's name, school name and the director's name. This can easily be done on an iPhone or other smart phones.
Videos must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and become the property of the Sun Herald.
Videos will be uploaded to SunHerald.com as they are received. The sooner you get them in, the sooner you can begin voting. Voting will be tabulated by completed video views accrued by 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.
The winner will be notified by the Sun Herald and announced Friday, Feb. 3, which will allow two weeks to rehearse for the big night.
How to send your video
- Place video on a flash drive and mail it to:
C/O Sun Herald
P.O. Box 4567
Biloxi MS 39535
- Flash drives also may be dropped off at Sun Herald offices at 205 DeBuys Road in Gulfport.
Please put in an envelope. Write Attn: Jeff Clark on the envelope.
Videos must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and will become the property of the Sun Herald.