Actor and activist Gary Sinise will speak at Freed-Hardeman University’s annual benefit dinner to raise funds for scholarships at the university, according to FHU President David R. Shannon. The dinner is set for Friday night, Dec. 4, 2020.
Sinise has been an advocate of America’s servicemen and women for more than 30 years, beginning in the early 1980s with his support of Vietnam veterans groups. His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump” formed a bond with the military community. After participating in several handshake tours in 2003, Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band and began entertaining troops around the world. The band presents approximately 50 shows annually for military bases, charities, and fundraisers supporting veterans and troops.
In 2011, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor the nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. These include its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment), whose flagship initiative is a custom Smart Home building project for severely wounded veterans. Each home is customized to ease daily challenges and help restore independence to veterans.
“Gary Sinise’s life of service should inspire all of us to honor and serve America’s veterans,” Shannon said. “His dedication over many years to improving the lot of our servicemen, particularly the wounded warrior, is truly remarkable.”
Sinise serves as spokesperson for both the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation and Disabled American Veterans. He serves on executive councils for The Medal of Honor Foundation and the USO and as an advisory board member for Hope for the Warriors.
Sinise has earned many distinguished awards, including The Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Medal of Honor Society, the Spirit of the USO Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association and West Point’s Thayer Award. In 2008 he was given the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens, for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation, only the third actor ever to receive this honor. The U.S. Navy recently named him an honorary Chief Petty Officer and the Marine Corps made him an Honorary Marine.
FHU’s annual benefit dinner is typically the state’s largest single-night fundraiser. For the past 20 years, it has generated more than $1 million annually to help students attend FHU. Forever Communications is the premier media sponsor for the event. Individuals may learn more about purchasing tickets or becoming a sponsor at fhu.edu/sinise.
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson, Memphis and Dickson, FHU offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degrees. More information is available at fhu.edu.