ALLEGANY, NY – Local hero Lt. Col. Patrick Miller organized yet another successful fundraiser for veterans in need.
Miller, 37, an Allegany native and St. Bonaventure graduate, was inspired to make a difference after going through a life-changing experience.
In 2014, Miller was a victim in the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting. The gunman struck Miller with a bullet that narrowly missed his heart. Despite the severity of his injury, Miller pushed forward, applying pressure to the wound and moving fellow soldiers to safety. He underwent two surgeries and spent two weeks in the intensive care unit.
For his efforts, Miller was awarded the Army’s highest noncombat honor for valor, the Soldiers Medal.
Three years ago, Miller decided that he wanted to give back and started the Southern Tier Wounded Warriors Benefit Concert with one goal in mind.
“Every decision we make leading up to this is to raise money and awareness for wounded veterans. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do it. That’s our motivation,” Miller said.
Miller seems to have solidified the fundraiser as a staple event in Western New York. The concert, held Saturday at Allegany’s Fireman’s park, drew an estimated crowd of 1,500 to 1,700 people, and is a positive trend from the 1,300 who attended in 2018.
This year's fundraiser pulled in country music star Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry and national recording artists Meg and Tyler, Eric Van Houten and Jack Ellis.
“Look to the left and look to the right look all around," Miller said. "This is a big deal. This is a big production and everything that you see here didn’t just happen by the snap of someone’s fingers. There was a lot of work, preparation, and coordination that went into this.”
The audience consisted of a strong showing from the local community. Chloe Dunn, 21, of Portville came to the concert with a group of friends.
“This is my first year here; so far it’s a great time. We have only been here for 30 minutes and already saw a bunch of people we know,” Dunn said.
Several local organizations were present at the concert. One of those organizations, the Student Veterans Association of St. Bonaventure University, was there for the third year in a row.
Student Veterans Media Director Rob Petruccello, 29, of Olean said that their focus is local community outreach.
“We are really excited to be here, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to a large group of veterans that might not know about the benefits that Bonaventure offers,” he said. “It’s really a great cause, and we plan on supporting it again next year.”
All profits from the event will be donated to local veterans organizations such as the St. Bonaventure SVA and the Fisher House Foundation.
The concert was also supported by the Allegany Police Department, New York State troopers, EMS and The Reinforcements, a local motorcycle club for veterans.
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