Thursday, June 6, 2013
In September more than 250 severely injured veterans and caregivers from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to arrive in Charleston from across the country to once again participate in the fourth annual, Lt. Dan Week in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Coordinated by the Independence Fund, the event is designed to bring the community together in a show of support for some of the most severely injured veterans from the post 9/11 War on Terror.”
Headlining the event for the fourth year in a row will be well known entertainer, Gary Sinise. Sinise, widely known for his Oscar nominated performance as “Lt. Dan” in the 1996 film Forrest Gump has become the de facto face for the war wounded of Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, 2012, Sinise was profiled for his efforts by the popular news program, “60 Minutes.”
“The reception that the band received the past three years in the Lowcountry has been overwhelming and the compassion and dignity with which the community treats our injured veterans truly left such a favorable impression that we eagerly look forward to our return.”
Sinise is scheduled to take the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept 14 at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood football stadium. The Independence Fund tentatively plans to place tickets on sale on Independence Day, July 4.
“The Lt. Dan Band provides an evening of world class entertainment, but we are waiting to put tickets on sale in hopes that the many defense related corporations, local businesses or just plain old patriotic citizens who populate the Lowcountry will step up to the plate with enough sponsorship in order that we can make this a free concert that celebrates the service and sacrifice of all fallen and severely injured veterans from the War on Terror,” said Steve Danyluk, founder of The Independence Fund.
Danyluk, a Marine veteran with two Combat Action Ribbons continued, “Because less than one percent of the nation has served in the War on Terror, many of these veterans, particularly the wounded, feel isolated and unappreciated beyond the perfunctory ‘Thank you for your service,’ they often hear. This is an opportunity for an economically booming town like Charleston to put some meat behind those words and show the rest of the nation just what “We support the Troops” means.”
Organizers estimate that they need to raise $150,000 in sponsorship to stage the concert as a free event.
“We are asking that every concert attendee bring a candle with them to the event that they will light just prior to Gary taking the stage, in honor of each of the nearly 7,000 fallen and 65,000 severely injured from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Independence Fund board member, Sergeant Major Jesse Acosta, USA (ret.). Acosta, who lost much of his facial area and both eyes during an attack in Balad, Iraq, is one of the most senior ranking enlisted wounded from the war. “I won’t be able to see it, but I can imagine the sight of 20,000 lit candles in that stadium, and it sends a chill down my spine.”
At $10,000, Blue Cross is the largest and only Silver Star sponsor for the event so far. Local Aerospace company, Tighitco, has stepped up as the title sponsor for the Lt. Dan 5K which will take place at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14, also at the Johnson Hagood stadium. “Having someone like Gary Sinise donate his time like this is probably the highest endorsement that both the Independence Fund, The Citadel and the City of Charleston could possibly receive,” said Danyluk. “We are deeply grateful and appreciative that established companies such as BlueCross and Tighitco find this event worthy of their support and hope that many others will follow their lead.”
The Independence Fund is a South Carolina registered 501(c)3 organization. Donations to the group are tax-deductible and help provide injured troops with the tools, therapies and guidance that they otherwise are not receiving. Amongst other accomplishments, the Indy Fund www.independencefund.org has raised more than $1.5 million in 2013 in partnership with Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly in an initiative to provide all-terrain wheel chairs for paralyzed veterans of the War on Terror. The $15,000 Track chairs are not covered by military insurance policies.
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Others interested in sponsoring the Lt Dan Weekend in Charleston may obtain more information and download the sponsorship pack on the event website, www.LDW4.org.