The Flight Deck Veterans Group and Cherrybend Pheasant Farm, in partnership with R+L Carriers, hosted the 2016 Operation Cherrybend event last Saturday which raised more than $60,000. Net proceeds will fund other veterans’ events including survivor outreach activities, local 5-Star events and next year’s concert.
This year’s event featured Lonestar and special guest Jared Ashley at The Murphy Theatre. Songwriters and Marine Corps veterans Sal Gonzalez and Daniel Dean and songwriter Jerry Adams kicked off the concert. Former WWE superstar and star of the movie “The Marine 2,” Ted DiBiase Jr., showed his support and Jason Koger, the first bilateral arm amputee in the world to receive bionic hands controlled by an app, was also in attendance.
Operation Cherrybend was founded in 2015 by Nashville recording artist and U.S. Navy veteran Jared Ashley, in partnership with the Ellis family, owners of Cherrybend Pheasant Farm, a 640-acre hunting preserve in Wilmington. Ashley is also the founder of The Flight Deck Veterans Group, an organization created to promote camaraderie between veterans.
The mission of Operation Cherrybend is to thank our nation’s veterans and spread awareness about veterans’ issues.
The Nick Erdy Foundation donated tickets to the concert so veterans and active-duty military personnel could attend for free. The foundation was established in honor of Lance Corporal Nick Erdy, a local Ohio hero that lost his life while serving in Iraq in 2005.
Operation Cherrybend hosted a Hero’s Party on Friday night to honor local and visiting veterans. Ashley and Beth Ellis, co-owner of Cherrybend Pheasant Farm, announced the launch of Cherrybend Guitars, a line of custom guitars to be donated to wounded veterans at rehab centers like the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Ashley, along with Marine Corps Sgt. Major Harold Overstreet, granted Ellis the honor of a lifetime membership to The U.S. Navy Flight Deck Veterans Group as a civilian. Ellis was recognized for her devotion to the US Armed Forces and her service to military veterans.
“Operation Cherrybend is an event made possible by the generosity of our community with individual and business sponsors,” said Ellis. “R+L Carriers served as this year’s title sponsor and is committed to honoring our veterans. Liberty Creek Wine graciously sponsored the VIP Experience for concert-goers.
“I’m so humbled by the donations and volunteer hours our community put in for this event,” said Ellis. “Twenty-two veterans take their lives every day. To all veterans and active duty military personnel, we want you to know how grateful we are for your service. Thank you.”
Overstreet, the concert emcee, received the key to the city of Wilmington from Mayor John Stanforth. Featured artists, Lonestar performed and were joined by Operation Ashley., who said of the featured artists, “Growing up they were one of my biggest influences, and it was such an honor and privilege to share the stage with them, especially for such a great cause.”
“Operation Cherrybend, although in its infancy, is doing big things and I can’t wait until next year,” said Ashley. “In the meantime, we look forward to expanding the event to Arlington, Texas with a special show that we will announce in the coming months.”