CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Cheers, handshakes and backslaps greeted U.S. Navy Veteran Taylor Morris Saturday night as he walked into Gateway Park for a concert in his honor. It was appreciated, but he expected nothing less from his hometown of Cedar Falls. "You've seen it before where something bad happens and the community's got your back. It's awesome to see," said Morris.
This time the "bad" is what happened to Morris May of 2012. While fighting in Afghanistan he was injured and left a quadruple amputee. It's taken 15 long months to recover, but... "I feel like I'm wrapping it up-- good to go," said Morris.
He's getting ready to get back to normal life and that's where the Tunnel to Towers and Gary Sinise Foundations came in. Saturday's concert was their idea, a way to raise funds for Morris with the help of award winning actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band.
Sinise started the band in 2004. It's named after the fictional character Lt. Dan, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran, which Sinise played in the Oscar award winning film Forrest Gump.
The sales from the hundreds of tickets people bought to see Lt. Dan's Band will directly benefit Morris by funding the construction of his own "smart home." "Which really means that every essential function of that house is operated either off an iPad or an iPhone," said John Hodge, director of operations for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Those homes cost about $500,000 to build, but Lt. Dan himself said this concert will help get the job done. "Concerts are kind of a rallying point. They give us a point to get everybody's energy focused on one thing and that's Taylor Morris, and getting him that house," said Sinise.
It's all music to Morris' ears. He may not know where in the Cedar Falls area he wants to put that new home, but he knows who to thank for it. "Just want to tell everybody thanks. We're extremely, extremely grateful," said Morris.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has been doing these concerts with Gary Sinise for a couple years now. To date, they've built or started work on 20 homes for wounded veterans.