This was the first Heroes awards dinner, but I”m certain not the last and since alot of our troops are starting to come home, it’s important to help integrate them into society and make them feel at home. The Goodwill gala was truly a first class event that I hope with bring joy to our Thankful hearts each and every year by helping our troops. Please visit their website for more info on how you can help be a part of this worthy cause.
For over thirty years, Gary Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s servicemen and women. It began in the early ‘80s with his support of Vietnam Veterans groups and the creation of Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His commitment continued into the ‘90s working on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization which he continues to actively support. Since the attacks of September 11, his dedication to our nation’s active duty defenders, veterans and first responders has become a tireless crusade of support, service and gratitude to all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.
His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the landmark film “Forrest Gump” formed an enduring connection with servicemen and women throughout the military community. After several USO handshake tours in 2003, Sinise formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004 and began entertaining troops serving at home and abroad. The band now performs close to 50 shows a year for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting veterans and troops. In 2011, to expand upon his efforts, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor our 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.
The Cusumano Family
Established in 1959, the family owned and operated Cusumano Real Estate Group is one of the largest privately held property owners in Southern California. The group is involved in the acquisition, development, management and ownership of investment properties, including luxury apartments, (low and moderate) residential rental properties, senior apartments, office buildings, restaurants, warehouse and retail spaces. Their outstanding reputation in business is equaled by their exemplary commitment to service and civic leadership; helping to meet the needs of the community through philanthropy and many volunteer and advisory posts on local committees, commissions and charitable boards.
The Cusumano’s spirit of giving and community support is complemented by a history of military service. Today, Charlie Cusumano (IV) is enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. After returning from front line deployment in Afghanistan earlier this year, he was stationed in Vicenza, Italy where he currently serves. His father, Charlie (III), helps severely wounded veterans regain a sense of purpose, and provides an important physical outlet to rehabilitate their minds, bodies and souls by sponsoring and traveling his “Paseo Tribe” triathlon team. A deeply personal commitment to training and supporting these veterans plays a vital role in successfully reintegrating these everyday heroes into civilian life.