Navy Vet Raising Money for His Funeral Gets Help From the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry recently stepped up to help Willie Davis, a Navy veteran in need. After an online fundraiser for Davis went viral, the venerable country music organization helped out with a charity event of their own, because of a special connection.
Diagnosed with terminal, Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma Pennsylvania resident Davis held a yard sale over the summer to raise money to pay for his funeral. Neighbors David Dunkleberger and Ed Sheets happened across the yard sale and, after chatting with Davis, created a GoFundMe page to help the veteran cover the cost of a burial next to his parents in Culpepper, Va., per his wishes.
Dunkelberger and Sheets' fundraiser well exceeded its $40,000 goal, but Grand Ole Opry staff members still wanted to help out, after they spotted an Opry T-shirt hanging front and center in the photo of Davis on the GoFundMe page. “We all took it as a sign, that the Opry T-shirt was so prominent in the photo, and we thought, ‘What can we do to assist?’" Senior Marketing Manager Dan Rogers tells People. “We were moved by his story, felt as if we are in a unique position to help and wanted to do just that.”
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On Oct. 27, the Grand Ole Opry hosted Willie's Yard Sale, offering up pieces of the Opry's memorabilia collection and holding a silent auction. Along with Opry T-shirts, sweatshirts and framed prints, the silent auction items included a signed pink guitar from Carrie Underwood, and a signed print recognizing her 10 years as an Opry member. Also available at the silent auction was an autographed package from Dustin Lynch, the Opry's newest member; an opportunity to raise the curtain for the Opry's 9:30PM show that night; and a chance to meet Little Big Town backstage at the Opry and receive a signed copy of their latest vinyl.
“None of us at the Opry have [met him], and frankly we’re okay with that,” Rogers says. “We just want to raise some funds for this person that we’ve fallen in love with his story and are proud of what he’s done as an American, and are very impressed that he’s faced adversity the way he has and has been doing the best he can with the cards he’s been dealt ... It’s in country music artists, fans and the Opry family’s DNA to try to help others when given the opportunity.”
The Grand Ole Opry has not shared how much money was raised from Willie's Yard Say. Any remaining money from the GoFundMe account and the yard sale after Davis' burial needs are met will be donated to another veteran in need.
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