Benefit Show Gives Hope To Homeless Veterans

By  //  January 22, 2013

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Exceeds All Expectations

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – On Jan. 19, homeless veterans in Brevard County received a gift of hope and here’s how it happened.

It was in October 1993. Colonel Danny McKnight (www.dannymcknight.com) is shot while leading his troops in Mogadishu, Somalia. Even as he is horribly injured, he continues to bark out orders, leading his troops, and saving lives in the midst of a continuing battle. This heroic story is later chronicled in the book and movie, Black Hawk Down.

Fast forward to October of 2012. Rockledge resident, Elvis Tribute Artist Jack Smink (www.jacksmink.com), gives his friend, Danny McKnight, a call.

Jack tells Danny of his idea of performing a benefit show in this area.

Jack Smink performs at the Veterans Benefit Show on Jan. 19. (Image courtesy of LST Productions)

Now Jack is no stranger to benefit shows. In the past few years, he has coordinated and performed benefit shows that have generated more than $100,000 for local charities.

This show, however, would be different. Danny suggests that the benefit be held for homeless veterans – a cause that is dear to his heart. Done. One of the reasons the National Veterans Homeless Support, Inc. was chosen for this show is that this organization runs with less than a 10 percent administrative budget.

Jack knew he had to honor them by following their business plan. With a zero dollar budget, Jack starts making calls. Jack Smink’s Lightning Strikes Twice Band and Vocalists get the first calls. That was easy – all in.

Every person in Jack’s 15-piece band agreed to perform the show for no compensation. Now the hard part, to find a venue, advertising, and sound crew for this show.

Once each of these groups heard the story of Jack’s dream to honor our local homeless veterans, they, too, were all in. Understand that a show of this size often costs from $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the venue, this show was completed with absolutely no out-of-pocket expenses. 100 percent of every ticket sale for the Club Nova and 100 percent of every donation was to go directly to National Veterans Homeless Support, Inc.

The evening of Jan. 19 finally arrives. While ticket sales are OK at best, Jack is concerned. If you know Jack at all, you know that he cares deeply about commitments, and his desire on that night is to give at least $6,000 to the vets.

The guests start arriving – loyal followers of Jack and his band, friends from Rockledge Rotary, special guests Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Rockledge City Manager Jimmy McKnight, Rockledge Mayor Tom Price, Judge Steve Koons, and many other influential Brevardians.

Estimates are as many as 600 veterans may be homeless and living in Brevard County. (Shutterstock image)

In no time every chair in the building is full. Danny McKnight is introduced and he tells a bit about himself and the chosen organization. Proudly, he leads the audience in The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of “Our” United States of America.

Jack steps out singing America the Beautiful, the perfect opening for this grand night. The show proceeds and everyone laughs, dances, and sings along as Jack, the master entertainer, belts out song after song, joke after joke, and includes, what feels like, every member of the audience in the show.

At one point, about an hour or so into the music, Jack is handed a piece of paper with total ticket sales for the night. $7,482. His voice cracks as he reads that huge number, exceeding his desires and dreams for the night.

Almost immediately, a local realtor, a very generous man, offers to “top it off at an even $8,000.”

Wow. This offer spontaneously generates a flurry of other offers. $100, $200, $500 is offered from other generous guests. Jack stops for a moment, removes his show belt, an exact replica of the belt Elvis wore in his Aloha from Hawaii show in January 1973, and offers it to the highest bidder.

When the “auction” was over, one man had offered $2,000 for the belt and if Jack would sing Amazing Grace. Without hesitation, the band starts playing and Jack sings not one, but three verses of the beloved song. That capped what must have been a vision of the Hand of God waving over the homeless veterans of Brevard County and the entire country.

A whopping $12,500 had been given or pledged – again – 100 percent going to National Veterans Homeless Support, Inc. (www.nvhs.us/home)

God Bless America and Our Veterans.


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