Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TOP STORY >> Sunday concert a benefit for three first-responders

Leader staff writer

Former “American Idol” finalist and up-and-coming country star Bucky Covington will headline a concert Sunday at the Electric Cowboy in Little Rock to benefit the families of three Jacksonville first responders.

Fire Capt. Donnie Jones was killed and engineer Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel Dematteo were seriously injured when a car plowed into them March 19 while they were trying to rescue a woman who had driven off Hwy. 161 into a ditch.

Bowmaster has gone through a number of surgeries. He is improving and is expected to recover, but it will take time. Dematteo is also recovering from his injuries.

The driver, Bryce Allen, 47, has been charged in the incident.

The concert, which also features local bands: Dr. County and the Moses Tucker Band, will start at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Electric Cowboy, off I-30, in Little Rock.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at city hall, the central fire station or at www.helpthe goodguys.com, or $15 at the door.

The Help the Good Guys group, which is dedicated to easing the burden for wounded community heroes, contacted firefighter Leo Foster about doing the concert. Foster didn’t hesitate. “It’s a good thing to do.”

Foster worked with both firefighters. “Anyone who is a firefighter or police officer knows, in the back of their minds, that something bad can always happen. We try to prepare for it, but it’s not easy. But we have to keep on doing what we do, which is help the public,” Foster said.

But now it’s the public’s chance to help. “We just want everyone to come out to the concert and help these heroes.”

At Jones’ funeral two weeks ago fire chief John Vanderhoof noted, “A fire chief’s worst nightmare is the loss of a fellow firefighter who has been killed in the line of duty. He started his career with the Jacksonville Fire Department on Dec. 24, 1980. He served for 31 years of dedicated service with the Jacksonville Fire Department. He will be missed by his family as well as his firefighting family.”

Jones was the first Jacksonville firefighter to be killed in the line of duty.

Mickey Milam, a medically retired metro Nashville police officer, formed Help the Good Guys, which is offering the singing service of Covington.

He says that when a firefighter or law enforcement officer is injured, the family often suffers a devastating loss of income. Many cities and communities have limited funds to cope with these situations.

The organization raises funds through CD and merchandise sales as well as concerts.

Artists who have worked with the organization include Ronnie Milsap, Vince Gill, George Strait and others.

Currently, Covington has volunteered to headline shows for the group.

“I am honored to be a part of this organization. Firefighters and police officers risk their lives to protect our families and communities…running into burning buildings, chasing down wanted fugitives…they make what I do look easy. If I can sing a few songs and raise money for a family in need, I consider it a small thing compared to what they do every year.”

Covington’s current hit song is “I Want My Life Back.”