BEAUFORT -- Ever since playing Lt. Dan, the character in the movie "Forrest Gump" who lost his legs fighting in Vietnam, actor Gary Sinise has devoted his time and treasure to helping the nation's military personnel and first responders.
This week, he returned to South Carolina's Lowcountry, where much of the 1994 film was shot, for the second annual Lt. Dan Weekend, a four-day gathering of military personnel and vets who were severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Volunteers raise donations so the vets have a chance to get away. Sinise's Lt. Dan Band scheduled a benefit concert on the Beaufort waterfront Friday night. "We have a lot of folks who are banged up out there and need our help," said Sinise, star of "CSI: New York," during a Thursday reception.
The idea of the Lt. Dan Weekend came from Steve "Luker" Danyluk, who in 2007 founded the Independence Fund, which provides support for those who suffered severe wounds in the war on terror.
Danyluk, who moved to the Beaufort area two years ago, is a Marine vet who served in Iraq and later worked with the wounded at the Military Severely Injured Center. He said he was sitting in a restaurant with his wife and saw pictures from "Forrest Gump" on the wall.
"It just popped into my head that we should get Gary Sinise here to do a benefit because he had performed for us in Dallas," he said, adding that he e-mailed Sinise. "I didn't know if I would get anything back but I got a response in about 20 minutes."