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By Ryan Smith

MEADVILLE TRIBUNE

A Meadville teen diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition has a wish to meet a celebrity.

To help it come true, Meadville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 97 donated $1,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“They believe so much in their community that they want to give back in a big way. We’re just one organization that benefits from their philanthropic spirit,” said Jan Stork, regional director for Make-A-Wish.

And what makes that spirit shine is the community’s support of events like the upcoming FOP 35th annual Country Music Show, according to event organizers.

This year’s show, featuring two direct-from-Nashville performances by Collin Raye and Restless Heart, along with special guests NOMaD (North of Mason Dixon), is March 22 at 1 and 6 p.m. at Allegheny College.

The long-running event — the city police union’s main fundraiser — has continually brought in big names from the country music industry: Trace Adkins, Little Texas, Mark Chestnutt, Confederate Railroad and Tracy Byrd have all taken the stage in recent years. Both shows are traditionally sell-outs, but there are still around a few hundred tickets left for this year’s show, according to organizers.

“I’m excited” about this year’s show, said city police Sgt. Mike Tautin. “Collin Raye has a ton of hits, Restless Heart’s doing some new songs,” and their opener, Pittsburgh-based NOMaD, “has opened for some of the biggest acts” in the industry.

With 15 No. 1 and 24 Top 10 hits on the country music charts, Raye is best known for songs including “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “That’s My Story” and “Little Rock.”

Restless Heart’s chart-toppers include “I’ll Still Be Loving You,” “Bluest Eyes in Texas” and “When She Cries.”

Such performers typically command top-dollar prices for tickets to their shows, according to event co-chair Mike Strineka. But “all the shows we’ve had over the years have been for a nominal fee — and they’re for a good cause,” he said.

The dollars generated benefit the union and its roughly 30 members, but much of the funds go back out into the community in the form of various donations for events and causes ranging from the annual Thurston Classic and charity golf events to local nonprofit fundraising groups and community education efforts, said Tautin.

And the philanthropy sometimes crosses county lines as well, he added. Recently, he said the Lodge 97 sent a donation to the City of Philadelphia’s police union to benefit the families of six officers who had been killed or injured in the line of duty there.

Lodge 97 is one of over 2,000 local chapters of the FOP, a nationwide organization that counts over 325,000 active and retired sworn law enforcement officers as its members.



Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com.



You can go

Collin Raye and Restless Heart, along with special guests NOMaD, are the stars of Meadville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 97’s 35th annual Country Music Show, March 22 at 1 and 6 p.m. at Allegheny College. Tickets are $21 each, and may be purchased by calling 337-5650.

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