GLENS FALLS — They’re throwing a patriotic shindig of country music and surprise guests in February at the Charles R. Wood Theater to celebrate former Marine Sgt. Eddie Ryan’s “Alive Date.”
It was on Ryan’s third combat tour in Iraq in 2005 that he was seriously wounded by two bullets shot into his head, one right over his eye and into his brain, from friendly fire.
“The Marine Corps flew us to Germany to say goodbye to Eddie,” said his dad, Chris Ryan in an earlier interview. “But they stabilized him and flew him back to Bethesda (Maryland). After 16 months of hospitals, he’s been getting better and better. They called him the ’Miracle Marine.’”
And every year since, Ryan and his family, who have a home in Lake George, and the community have celebrated another year of living.
Slated for Feb. 15, the Tribute to a Hero celebration concert features country band Tink Bennett and the Tailor Made Band, paying tribute to Ryan, his military service and his family.
Tink Bennett and the Tailor Made Band have been performing for over 30 years, opening for national acts like Lady Antebellum, Charlie Daniels, Josh Thompson, Sammy Kershaw and Molly Hatchett.
In the 15 years since being wounded, Ryan has made dramatic physical progress, but the traumatic brain injury from his wounds affected his cerebral cortex, leaving him unable to walk. Still, with the help of physical therapists, he has regained his speech and the use of one arm.
But Ryan still needs care all day, every day. And the proceeds from the concert will be donated to the family to help with some of these costs.
Two years ago, Ryan, with the help of fellow Marine infantryman Neal Cass, hand-pedaled a recumbent bike around Lake George on a freezing early spring day.
And the year before that, to celebrate, Cass reached out to his buddy, running 145 miles from his Connecticut home to Lake George.
The run, called the “Tougher Than a Tank Tour” — a phrase that came from Ryan when he said he was tougher than a tank in the hospital — raised $14,000 to help with Eddie’s care.
This year’s “Alive Date” celebration is supported by AIP Associates and the Froggy 100.3 (WFFG-FM) radio station.
Tickets for the event went on sale through the Wood Theater this week. They are $55 per person.
For wheelchair or handicapped-accessible seating, call the box office at 518-480-4878.
Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli is a reporter and photographer covering Washington County, arts and life, features and breaking news.