On July 4, though, he and his marching band were in the parade when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop.
This week, Benko is sitting in with the house band on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” He said this week’s appearance is about entertainment and awareness.
“This is more than just drumming on a show, which is amazing and I’m not taking away from that, but it also — I’m representing a community,” Benko said.
“I’m also representing some systemic issues in our country that need a greater look … and I’m also representing, specifically, my students, and what they have gone through and what they’re gonna always continue to go through," Benko said.
He added that his students have been so excited and supportive.
“They like seeing me drum, in general,” Benko said. “They’ve come to see me at Blue Man Group in Chicago, and, you know, they’ve already reached out and said, ‘We’d love to see you, Mr. Benko, on TV.’ It’s a really sweet thing, and they also understand how important it is to have that attention [and] have that support for them and for the rest of the Highland Park community.”
Benko is raising money for the Highland Park Community Foundation’s July 4 shooting response. All donations go to the victims and survivors.
Benko is sitting in as the guest drummer through Thursday.
“Late Night with Seth Meyers” airs at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.