On behalf of the tunnel to Towers Foundation, I wanted to reach out and appreciate everything the city of Marietta, volunteers and donors did for Specialist Kyle Hockenberry. On Aug. 16, the community rallied around our organization and the Gary Sinise Foundation in an endeavor to launch the home-building campaign for Kyle.
Before going any further, we appreciate Mayor Joe Matthews. I can honestly say the concert would not have happened if Mayor Joe had not personally gotten involved and called our office to convince us that the only place to present Gary Sinise was in Marietta. I wanted to give this public shoutout because, in an effort to keep the focus entirely on the wounded hero, we do not have non-performers onstage - at any of our concerts.
Mayor Matthews was instrumental from the beginning in ensuring this concert remained in Marietta for the benefit of Kyle. When others expressed doubt, he reassured us that Marietta would rally around its own for a successful event. His office took the lead in securing a venue, Marietta College, and moving forward, enabled the organization to come to Marietta for a "kick-off" event for Kyle. He permitted staff to join a small army of volunteers to ensure everything was in order for Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
With the concert behind us and over $200,000 set aside for Kyle's home, many things remain for Marietta to accomplish before we return for groundbreaking. Don't forget the community is sponsoring its first Tunnel to Towers 5K run on Sept. 8, and there is a poker run being hosted by VFW Post 5108.
We look forward to returning to Marietta in the near future for many more good things to come.
Staten Island, N.Y.
EDITOR'S NOTE: John Hodge is director of operations for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.