CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Actor Gary Sinise is doing his part. A Columbia, Mo., veterans foundation has done its part. Now it's the Cedar Valley's turn to step up for disabled Afghanistan veteran Taylor Morris.
All residents here have to do ifs buy a ticket for the 7 p.m. Aug. 3 benefit concert by Sinise's Lt. Dan Band to raise funds to build an iPad-controlled "smart home" in Cedar Falls for Morris to accommodate his disabilities.
Organizers --- including Sinise --- are confident that's going to happen.
Sinise joined Morris --- disabled in a May 2011 bomb blast --- and girlfriend Danielle Kelly via Skype and conference call at a press conference Tuesday to announce a major $200,000 gift anticipated to add major momentum to ticket sales for the Aug. 3 concert at Cedar Falls' Gateway Park.
"We're looking forward to playing for Taylor and Danielle," Sinise said. "Taylor obviously has given a lot and they are a great, great couple. Immediately when we heard about Taylor, we wanted to do something." The band is "all set to go for Aug. 3 to have a great concert there, to not only raise some funds to help build their house, but to raise awareness about what Taylor's gone through, what he's given for his country, and to honor him.
"This is all about them," Sinise said. "It's not about me or my band or anything like that ... . This is a very exciting opportunity for us because we believe that we can bring the community together and raise a lot of money that night, and make sure that we leave knowing that they're going to get their home."
Sinise's namesake foundation is conducting the "Building for America's Bravest" project for triple and quadrupel amputee Iraq and Afghanistan veterans along with the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation. It is named for and run by the family of a New York City firefighter killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist skyjacker bombing and destruction of the World Trade Center that led to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The Veterans United Foundation of Columbia, Mo., is donating $200,000 toward the home construction for Morris. The home is estimated to cost $500,000 to build and is not covered by normal veterans benefits.
"When we first heard Taylor and Danielle's story we knew we had to help," Veterans United director Megan Sievers said in a statement. "Their pure love and devotion to each other is refreshing, and not something you see every day. Their bravery is exciting. Their sacrifice to our country is astounding." The award is an annual grant, Sievers said, and "it wasn't even a question" that Morris would be this year's recipient.
"We are very, very, very excited" about the Veterans United grant, Morris said. "That's definitely something that came out of nowhere. We weren't expecting that at all. That's really awesome."
Morris, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal expert, lost portions of all four limbs in a May 2011 bomb blast in Afghanistan, where he was working to clear an area of explosives for a unit of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. Longtime girlfriend Kelly has remained by his side practically ever since, serving as a non-medical aide as he continues his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
"We all want to help Taylor and Danielle to get into their dream home as soon as possible," Tunnel to Towers foundation spokeswoman Catherine Christman said. Ticket sales for the concert are "starting to build and grow. And that's what we want to build on, because we're heading in the right direction." She also noted that nation flag-painting artist Scott LoBaido of Staten Island, N.Y., will begin Monday to paint a huge flag mural atop Cedar Falls AMVETS Post 49 in conjunction with the concert.
"We know that support from the community will be there and, with the grant, we will make huge steps in getting Taylor and Danielle in their home sooner rather than later," Christman said.
Tickets to the Aug. 3 concert may be purchased at www.operationtaylor.com or at 1-800-293-5949. They are also available at the Hy-Vee grocery stores at College Square in Cedar Falls and on University Avenue in Waterloo.
Kelly also noted a second annual "Taylor Morris Glow Stick 5K" fundraiser run will be 9 p.m. Aug. 24 at Gateway Park, designed to benefit deserving inspirtional individuals in the community. Details on that event can be found at www.taylormorris.org.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- A Columbia, Mo.-foundation, Veterans United, is donating $200,000 to disabled Cedar Falls sailor Taylor Morris toward construction of an iPad-controlled "smart home" to accommodate his disabilities.
The donation was announced at a press conference this morning called by organizers of the Aug. 3 benefit concert for Morris. Actor Gary Sinise's "Lt. Dan Band" will be playing to raise additional funds for Morris' home, estimated to cost $500,000.
Sinise, Morris and girlfriend Danielle Kelly participated by Skype in the press conference, conducted by the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, which is holding the concert in conjunction with Sinise's foundation. The show is at 7 p.m.
They have done similar concerts nationwide for multiple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
"When we first heard Taylor and Danielle's story we knew we had to help," Veterans United director Megan Sievers said in a statement. "Their pure love and devotion to each other is refreshing, and not something you see every day."
Morris, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal expert, lost portions of all four limbs in a May 2011 bomb blast in Afghanistan, where he was working to clear an area of explosives or a unit of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers.
Tickets to the Aug. 3 concert may be purchased at www,operationtaylor.com or at 1-800-293-5949,