Hi folks! It`s 1.30pm here in Florida, the afternoon after my concert. I had the most amazing time in so many ways. The main reason for the evening was to raise funds for the remarkable charity TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors).
The charity was set up in 1994 by Major Bonnie Carroll following the death of her husband in an army C-12 plane crash in 1992. TAPS is the national organization providing compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a fallen hero. They provide community based care, peer based emotional support, grief and trauma resources,“Good Grief” camps for children, casework assistance and the 24/7 National Military Survivors Helpline. As you can imagine the whole evening was emotional and uplifting on so many levels.
The special Valentine concert opened with beautiful heartfelt words from Bonnie and was hosted by Jim Angle & Amy Sedlacek. For the last 18 years Jim has been the face for FOX news from Washington DC, including serving as Chief White House Correspondent during the Clinton and George W. Bush administration. Amy as well as being very stunning, is the Morning Anchor for ABC-7.
The supper included some of the best food I`ve ever tasted. It was from the Award winning Chef Greg Shapiro and his team at “Tastebuds”. Then it was me – “ top of the bill” and at $500 a ticket no pressure.
You may wonder how on earth I got involved with this charity across the pond. Well the couple who organised the whole evening, Scott & Renee Relf lost their nephew in 2013 in Afghanistan. They heard me sing back in 2011 and were instrumental in getting the charity single “Tell My Father” off the ground to raise money for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. So when I was asked to go over to help them I rushed at the opportunity to do so.
I sang various songs in my hour spot including the song that brought us together “Tell My Father”. The response was wonderful. After a long conversation with Bonnie we are hoping to re-release the song in the US to raise money for TAPS. Isn’t it funny how the circle of life works?
Another thing that made me smile was Renee`s Papa is called David Thomas! Surely a Welsh boy? Well yes indeed. His Grandfather was from Cardiff and in 1880 David Rhys Thomas crossed the Atlantic, married an American and so a new chapter in his life began.
I now have a few days off in the Florida sunshine before heading home as a guest at the Swansea City FC match against Man U. Then it’s up to London filming an in-house advert for a rather famous company – lips are sealed.
My week in the States has been wonderful from being recognised by a passport control officer in Atlanta to experiencing life in the kitchen of the famous steak house Shulas. I’ve made some wonderful new friends and realised that my Welsh accent can really get me anywhere.
Video created by Gareth Rockliffe
This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.