As a predecessor to the hugely successful Smiles Charity Concert and Festival held annually over Memorial Day weekend, Smiles Charity proudly presents An Evening with Craig Morgan at the McKinney Performing Arts Center on Friday March 23rd at 7:30 pm. Craig Morgan’s current hit single, the title track to his new CD This Ole Boy, is rapidly climbing the country music charts. He’s also the award-winning host of Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors on the Outdoor Channel. Craig will entertain concertgoers with his many hits including “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” and “This Ain’t Nothin’.”
The small venue of the McKinney Performing Arts Center will provide the perfect setting for an up close and personal set by Mr. Morgan. The first 100 tickets sold will also qualify for a chance to attend a meet and greet session with the veteran and country music star. Tickets will include a dessert reception, drinks, and a silent auction and can be purchased online at www.smilescharity.org under the “Events” tab. Net proceeds from the evening will go toward building homes for two severely wounded veterans designated as Smiles Charity’s 2012 beneficiaries, Augie Pena and Andrew Litz.
Augie Pena joined the Army Reserves in 2007 and honorably served in Iraq in 2009-2010. After returning stateside, he frequently travelled to his home base in St. Louis, Missouri to remain in compliance with the Army. On what would become his final trip for the Army Reserves, SPC Pena stopped to help 20-year old Mary Elbring change her tire. Ms. Elbring was stranded on a St. Louis highway in the early morning hours of November 25th 2010, and SPC Pena simply could not ignore her. As he helped her change her tire, a drunk driver slammed into Ms. Elbring’s car which in turn crushed SPC Pena.
Augie is now unable to collect disability from the Army as he was technically not on active duty at the time of the accident. Even though Augie is now a parapalegic living in a small apartment with his mother and 10 year old brother, he has a positive outlook on life.
The attacks of September 11th 2001 solidified Andrew Litz’s desire to follow his long family history of military service. In 2002, he joined the Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq for the first of what would eventually be three tours of duty in Iraq.
On his third tour of duty in Iraq in April of 2005, Litz was lead commander in a humvee that was hit by an IED. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that would leave him with debilitating life long side effects. He returned stateside to recover from his physical wounds only to realize that the side effects were getting worse.
He was hired by the Dallas Police Department in 2006 and successfully completed the Dallas Police Academy despite the recurring headaches and migraines. Despite using all of his vacation and sick time, his symptoms continued to escalate and he began suffering seizures. Now unable to perform his duties as a police officer and with the VA still refusing to recognize and treat his traumatic head injury, Sgt. Litz is left with no way to provide for his wife and two young children.
Smiles Charity is offering its humble thanks to these twice-earned American heroes who served their country at large while in Iraq and then served again as a good Samaritan and public servant. To show its gratitude for their service, their commitment, and their outstanding character, Smiles Charity is honored to help Operation Finally Home build Augie and Andrew each a home.
For more information about Smiles Charity, its mission, and its beneficiaries or to purchase tickets for Craig Morgan, please visit www.smilescharity.org.
Photo courtesy of Black River Entertainment