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CEDAR FALLS, IOWA — The Lt. Dan Band formed by actor Gary Sinise rocked out for an Iowa resident who lost limbs during a bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan.
The band performed Saturday night in Cedar Falls to help raise money to build a high-tech “smart home” for Taylor Morris, who was wounded in May 2012.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that Morris returned to his hometown and attended the concert.
“It’s a little overwhelming right now,” Morris said. “Definitely awesome to see the generosity, I guess.”
Sinise named the band after his character in the movie “Forrest Gump.” Gate receipts from the concert hadn’t been totaled, but an organizer reported about $5,000 in walk-up ticket sales in less than an hour before the event at Gateway Park. Other donations from military-support organizations brought fundraising to about half of the estimated $500,000 cost of the home.
Morris remains in the Navy while recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington. He hopes to return to Cedar Falls in the next six to 12 months.
He said the concert is more than a fundraiser for his home. The gathering also draws attention to others who have been injured or died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
“It’s always a good thing to raise awareness,” he said.
The thousands of people who attended the concert cheered for Morris, but they seemed equally enthusiastic for the show.
They gave huge applause for former New York City police officer Daniel Rodriguez’s singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and other patriotic songs. Rodriguez is best known for his rendition of “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York.
When the band took the stage, Sinise asked the crowd to come closer.
“Let’s get cozy! C’mon let’s have a good time for Taylor Morris!” Sinise shouted.
The band started with Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit, “September,” and quickly moved to “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder.
Morris’ girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, called the donations “unbelievable,” but said the best part was that people could join and enjoy themselves.
“It’s fun to see the community come together for a fundraiser with a fun band and have a good time,” Kelly said.