By Kerry McGinley
A group of award-winning songwriters and performers took to the stage to raise money for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at an event sponsored by PAE. The Colorado Springs Celebrity Classic Sept. 28 filled a dance hall with surviving families of fallen military and their supporters celebrating 25 years of TAPS programs and community building.
Country music stars Andy Griggs, Jimmy Nichols, Frank Myers and Brett Jones played hits they’d written or recorded, such as Myers’ “From My Front Porch Looking In” and Griggs’ “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely” and “She’s More.”
The biggest applause followed “I’m Already There,” written by Myers, Gary Baker and Richie McDonald, lead singer of Lonestar. Myers said that particular song about separation and enduring love had become a sort of unofficial anthem for military families. In addition to spending six weeks as a number one Billboard song, it has prompted volumes of letters and messages from fans who share stories of how the song helps them bridge gaps with loved ones, he said.
“This was a very impressive event and a worthy cause for PAE,” said GMS President Chuck Anderson, who attended the event with his wife Tammy Anderson. “Tammy and I were touched by the entire program, and the entertainment was nothing less than exceptional.”
Bonnie Carroll founded TAPS after her husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll was killed in an Army plane crash. The organization connects grieving family members with a support network and offers resources for emotional support, financial assistance, community-based care and a 24-hour helpline. Since its inception, TAPS has served 90,000 families. In addition to military members, TAPS also supports the families of fallen federal contractors.
Carroll, a retired major from the Air Force Reserve and recipient of the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, held appointments in both the Bush and Reagan White House. She emceed portions of the event. She thanked PAE and other sponsors for supporting TAPS and joined the PAE table for the barbecue dinner.
“As an organization that supports the U.S. military objectives in the most hostile environments, we are honored to have PAE as a partner in our mission to care for all those grieving a military loss,” Carroll said. “PAE is supporting our military families with critical resources and community-based care. It is a responsibility we owe to those who are defending our freedoms at home and abroad.”
Because TAPS is an international organization that serves for both military and federal contractor families, the organization is a natural fit for PAE’s philanthropy, said Regina Galvin, vice president of Marketing and Communication.
“As an organization that values veterans, military personnel, their families and their connected communities, PAE’s support of TAPS is an important part of our continued corporate social responsibility efforts,” Galvin said. “It’s always an emotional and meaningful experience to be in the audience among the survivors during any TAPS event. On behalf of PAE, we have great respect and gratitude for the beneficial work and healing TAPS provides.”