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First Veteran Impact Celebration raises $170K-plus...

First Veteran Impact Celebration raises $170K-plus for Daniels Center [+VIDEO]

Country music superstar Charlie Daniels shook hands and mixed and mingled many of the more than 200 people attending the inaugural MTSU Veteran Impact Celebration Thursday, June 28, at The Grove at Williamson Place in Murfreesboro.

Daniels held court for an hour for a number of news media wanting interviews. Later, he performed “In America” and “My Beautiful America” with his band and offered a patriotic recitation, recalling German warships in the Atlantic Ocean near his Wilmington, North Carolina, hometown as a young boy.

Led by Charlie Daniels, Journey Home Project presents $100,000 to Daniels Veterans Center.

MTSU alumnus Terry “Max” Haston, left, legendary musician Charlie Daniels and Journey Home Project co-founder David Corlew present a $100,000 check to the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center June 28 at The Grove at Williamson Place during the inaugural Veteran Impact Celebration. Haston is a U.S. Army major general, adjutant general with the Tennessee Army National Guard and newest Journey Home Project board member. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

By night’s end, he, Journey Home Project co-founder David Corlew and the nonprofit foundation’s newest board member, MTSU alumnus and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, presented a $100,000 check for the university veterans center that bears the names of Daniels and his wife, Hazel.

Coupled with more than $41,000 raised through corporate sponsorship of tables for the sold-out event, gifts in kind and pledges, Daniels Center officials estimate about $171,000 was raised for the center.

The 3,200-square-foot Daniels Center is the largest and most comprehensive veterans center in Tennessee and one of the largest in the nation. It serves MTSU’s nearly 1,000 student veteran and military family members on campus, giving them a one-stop-shop to meet many academic, Veterans Affairs and career needs.

Funds raised by the event fund the center on the first floor of Keathley University Center and its accompanying Transitioning Home office on the third floor of the KUC. The Transitioning Home office assists all MTSU students, not just student-veterans, in their career path.

Charlie Daniels performs

Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels performs June 28 during the first Veteran Impact Celebration at The Grove at Williamson Place. The event raised $171,000 for the MTSU veterans center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Daniels, 81, a Country Music Hall of Fame member, performed near the end of the program along with Scott Brown of the Scooter Brown Band. The event also featured four performances by Operation Song singers and songwriters who have been assisted by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame members.

“Freedom is not free,” said Daniels, who praised the Daniels Center’s work. “There are two things you can count on — the grace of God and the U.S. military. … We fully intend to make this an annual event.”

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee added that the “university’s efforts to give back would not be nearly as comprehensive and impactful if not for the individuals, businesses, governmental agencies and nonprofits who have opened their hearts to provide so generously to MTSU’s programs, centers and initiatives. Tonight, we also celebrate these organizations and individuals for empowering our efforts.”

McPhee thanked Charlie and Hazel Daniels, Corlew and The Journey Home Project and the “corporate sponsors and the employers who have partnered with us to help our veterans transition to their next career path.”

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Charlie Daniels

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left visits with Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels June 28 during the inaugural Veteran Impact Celebration at The Grove at Williamson Place in Murfreesboro. Daniels’ Journey Home Project gave $100,000 to the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center that serves more than 900 student-veterans and their family members. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Keith M. Huber, MTSU’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, welcomed the invited guests and shared how the Daniels Center has an ongoing commitment to those who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

Center officials already are planning for the second Veteran Impact Celebration, which will be held June 27, 2019 — the first Thursday before the July 4 holiday. Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical owner Jimmy Hiller has agreed to be the major 2019 sponsor.

Diamond-level sponsors this year included Hiller, Transition to Trades and Dollar General. Platinum-level sponsors included the Nashville Predators, Barrett and FirstBank. Panasonic, Mapco, BlueCross BlueShield, OleSouth and The Journey Home Project were gold-level sponsors.

Ten other companies or offices and four individuals — U.S. Army retired Lt. Gen. William “Bill” Phillips and fellow MTSU alumni and veterans Don Witherspoon, Bob Lamb and Bud Morris — provided bronze-level sponsorships. Supporting sponsors for the meal included Steel Barrel, Stones River Total Beverages, Mission BBQ and The Grove.

Several other retired military officers and MTSU alumni also attended the inaugural event.

MTSU has more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Part of the crowd attending the inaugural Veteran Impact Celebration

Part of the crowd attending the inaugural Veteran Impact Celebration June 28 at The Grove at Williamson Place in Murfreesboro enjoys the festivities. The event raised $171,000 for the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Emmitt Stanford and Charlie Daniels

A youngster, Emmitt Stanford, left, watches and listens and legendary country music star Charlie Daniels plays a tune on a personally autographed guitar. The exchange occurred June 28 at the inaugural Veteran Impact Celebration at The Grove at Williamson Place. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)


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