Photo: This is the tower built to be the “home” of double-amputee Marine Corps veteran Scott Burns at Southern Thunder Harley Davidson. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
Scott Burns invites you to stop by and visit him this week for Thanksgiving. He’ll be here all week long and hopes to see you. Just do him a favor and bring some cash with you please when you come.
Burns is a double-amputee Marine Corps veteran who is the driving force between the nonprofit 7Days4TheTroops. You can see him take residence for the week on Sunday, Nov. 19 about 2 p.m. at his “home” for the week, a two-level tower built next to the water tower at Southern Thunder Harley Davidson in Southaven.
Once he enters the tower, he won’t leave it until about 2 p.m. the following Saturday.
This is not the first time Burns has resided in the tower to raise money for veterans. It’s been done 25 times in five states since he started 17 years ago.
“I’m a Marine Corps veteran and had an ankle injury that cut my career short,” Burns said. “I was sitting at home beating myself up because I saw all these people going to Iraq and Afghanistan and I wanted to do something to help them. I saw a story about these kids that were raising money to buy calling cards to send overseas.”
The calling cards were phone cards used by soldiers at the time to call home from the Middle East. Burns decided to build a tower in the shopping mall parking lot of his Tupelo home and he believed it was going to be just a one-time event. It has become much more since that first time and 7Days4TheTroops has become its own 501(c)3 nonprofit.
7Days4TheTroops is an all-volunteer effort that makes sure the funds raised goes to benefit veterans.
“We wanted to make sure that when we told people that 100 percent of their donated dollars went to veterans it all actually went to veterans,” said Burns. “We have sponsors who cover the cost of our events, so the last two years we’ve been able to keep true to that 100 percent goes to help veterans.”
Coming to Southaven for this week’s fundraiser has been a couple of years in the making.
“I was in Southaven for something and I drove by Southern Thunder,” Burns said. “It just hit me that it would be an awesome place to do a 7Days4TheTroops event. So, I came by, we were talking and we were going to do it that year, but something came up that it couldn’t happen then.”
About six months ago Burns and Southern Thunder were able to get back together and plan for the week-long residential fundraiser, scheduling it for the week of Thanksgiving.
“We think it’s pretty cool that we can tell people that on Thanksgiving Day I’m going to be on top of the tower for Thanksgiving dinner, so that we can help raise money for veterans on the holiday,” said Burns.
Plans for the week include donating some of the proceeds to a group called 5thSquad, which helps pay the light bills and emergency car payments for veterans that may come up in tough times.
“We’ve got applications out so that you know of a family that needs holiday assistance, we’ll try and help a couple of families,” Burns said.
The tower is also being promoted as a place for people to bring toys for Toys for Tots, with the toys collected being delivered to that fundraiser at the end of the week through a local business.
As a double-amputee, Burns knows the importance of mobility, so a major goal for the week is to raise money for an all-terrain track wheelchair. As a result, the goal of about $20,000 has been set for the week-long event to cover the cost of a wheelchair and to help veterans’ families for the holidays.
Southern Thunder Harley Davidson and the nearby Sidecar Cafe also have partnered for events in support of veterans during the week, as well.
The tower has two levels with a portajohn on the lower level to cover those necessary times. Burns will have food hoisted up to him during the week and hopes cash donations will come along with the meals.
It was an ankle injury 12 years ago that, after several surgeries, led to Burns losing his left leg. The stress then placed on his right leg to compensate for the loss of the left leg resulted in another surgery, but infection in that leg forced another amputation last November.
Burns hopes people will get behind 7Days4TheTroops and give thanks for what veterans have done for the country as they celebrate Thanksgiving.
“If there are people who know veterans that could use assistance, we’d encourage people to reach out to us and let us see if there’s something we can do to help them,” Burns said. “We can’t help everybody but we hope we can encourage everybody to help somebody.”
Learn more at the 7Days4TheTroops website, and be sure to stop by and visit Burns as he takes residence for the week in Southaven.