Military News

April 13, 2013

Lt Dan Week fundraiser roiled by headliner's move

The Lt. Dan Week will still take place in Beaufort this year, but its main attraction, a concert by actor Gary Sinise, will move to Charleston, according to event organizers.

The Lt. Dan Week will still take place in Beaufort this year, but its main attraction, a concert by actor Gary Sinise, will move to Charleston, according to event organizers.

That doesn’t sit well with some local officials.

The concert by the Lt. Dan Band, led by Sinise — who played Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump” — will move to The Citadel’s football stadium this year, Independence Fund founder Steve Danyluk said Friday.

In March, organizers announced Sinise’s band would play in Beaufort at this year’s event, set for Sept. 9-15, as it has in each of the three previous festivals. The Lt. Dan Band was to play Sept. 14 in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Danyluk says the move to Charleston will give the fundraiser for disabled veterans more exposure. The Lt. Dan Week is hosted by the Beaufort nonprofit Independence Fund to raise money for robotic wheelchairs, therapy and other care for veterans in attendance and across the country.

“Holding the concert at The Citadel is an opportunity to build on something that was nurtured by the volunteers in Beaufort and is something that I hope all the volunteers will be proud of,” Danyluk wrote in an email to volunteers.

But at least one volunteer is not pleased with the move. City Councilwoman Donnie Beer said she received the email Thursday, and it was the first that the dedicated Lt. Dan Week volunteer had heard of the change.

“It’s devastating to me because we’ve worked so hard, and I feel like it’s a slap in the face to us — I really do,” Beer said.

The county has given accommodations-tax revenue to the event, and the city is discussing its grant. City and county officials said Friday the venue change could alter those plans.

Beaufort County Council gave $15,000 to the 2012 Lt. Dan Weekend 3, and in September, it gave $13,900 to this year’s event. Minutes from the Sept. 24 council meeting do not indicate that the money was given on the premise that the concert would be in Beaufort, but county administrator Gary Kubic said, “I don’t think anyone contemplated that it would be moved at the time.”

He intends to inform the county’s Finance Committee of the change.

The city of Beaufort also gives accommodations taxes to Lt. Dan Week, but has not yet allocated money for 2013. The Tourism Development Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to City Council on the grants that come from taxes on hotel rooms and other short-term lodging, is expected to make a presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Committee Chairman Jeff Evans said the group requested $15,000 for the event, and the committee intended to recommend giving it money. He would not say how much.

But if the concert venue is changed, it will not bring in visitors who pay the accommodations taxes, and that changes how the committee views the grant application, he said.

“We would certainly look at that and make whatever appropriate changes are necessary,” Evans said.

In a phone interview Friday, Danyluk said The Citadel contacted the Independence Fund about a month and a half ago and offered the use of the football stadium for the concert. Ticket sales for a Beaufort concert were halted, and refunds are being given out. Danyluk said tickets for the new location are expected to go on sale by May 1.

He said the move was approved by three groups queried: veterans, the Independence Fund board, and Sinise and his band. A spokesperson for Sinise could not be reached Friday for comment.

Citadel spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said negotiations for the concert at Johnson Hagood Stadium are underway, and officials at the military college hope they will be able to present the show.

“Regarding the actual event, little has changed, the veterans and caregivers will still be lodged for a week long retreat at Palm Key,” Danyluk wrote. “This is the true heart of the Lt. Dan Week, the concert merely being the icing on the cake.”

However, a Sept. 13 concert, for which entertainment had not been named, will probably not occur, Danyluk said. Last year, it was called the Vetpalooza Military Tribute Concert and was held the night before the Lt. Dan Band performance.

Danyluk said moving the Lt. Dan Band concert to The Citadel boosts the event’s fundraising capability because the Charleston venue has a larger seating capacity — about 25,000, based on preliminary seating arrangements. Last year, 4,200 tickets were sold for the Lt. Dan Band concert.

“I hate that anyone would be upset, because this is primarily for the veterans, and we’ve got the opportunity to grow this,” Danyluk said.

No all of the volunteers are upset. Elvis impersonator and annual Lt. Dan Week performer Capt. John A. “Woody” Woodall helped organize the move.

“Without the volunteers in Beaufort, it would just be another concert,” Woodall said. “They really paved the way for it. It’s just awesome.”

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