By Michelle Colesanti

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation created a strategic partnership program called “Building for America’s Bravest.”

Gary Sinise, the actor, is also a musician and has a band.  You probably know him best as the current star of CSI-New York and the actor who played the role of Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump.

A regular on the USO circuit, Gary Sinise & The LT Dan Band will be performing at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa on Friday, May 10 at 7 p.m (gates open at 6 p.m.) This benefit concert will take place to help build a customized Smart Home for Sgt. Michael Nicholson, USMC and a graduate of Plant High School in Tampa. In 2011, while serving in Afghanistan, Nicholson was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) resulting in the loss of both his legs and left arm.

When Nicholson returned home to Tampa, he was greeted by thousands of supporters. At his church, he spoke to the crowd, “I just want to ask for one more thing; please pray for the guys still in Afghanistan right now and for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines recovering in Bethesda, San Antonio and Balboa.  Pray for the ones who didn’t make it back.”

Nicholson has developed mastery of using the prosthetic limbs, and has taught himself to drive.

Local Bloomingdale resident and retired marine, Steve Emerson said that his motivation for this project has grown as a result of the potential for this young man to have a shot at the independence the rest of us take for granted.  With only his right arm fully functional, (he was left handed), basic everyday tasks the rest of us do without thinking, Nicholson must plan and prepare for. He must rely on others every day.

Emerson said, “The independence this Smart Home provides is a gift of freedom to Michael and to his friends and family.  In a smart home this young man can be the self-reliant master of his domain.  In my view, it is the best thing a grateful nation can do for someone who has offered such a sacrifice for our freedom.”

Each Smart Home is custom designed on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual needs of the recipient, and as you can imagine, an expensive endeavor.

Tickets to the concert are $35 per person ($75 VIP) and can be purchased by visiting www.SupportMike or calling 800-293-5949.

If you cannot attend the concert but would still like to donate, you can call 718-987-1931 (mention that it is for Mike Nicholson); mail a check to Tunnel to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10306 or visit and click on Michael Nicholson’s name or photo.


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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.