THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) — Actor Gary Sinise redefined the term “giving back” Saturday when he and his band — Lt. Dan Band — played a free concert in Thousand Oaks for first responders and their families.
” I just wanted to,do something here for my community,” Sinise told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Greg Mills.
Sinise wasn’t alone. He was joined in the giving spirit by John Ondrasik AKA the one-man band Five For Fighting perhaps best known for the song “Superman.” That song, in fact, was written in part to honor first responders on 9/11.
Sinise and Ondrasik were only too happy to be able to shed a light on the first responders who helped Thousand Oaks cope with the Borderline murders and the deadly Woolsey Fire days later.
“I live in Ventura County. I was here when this terrible thing happened last November. A 1-2 punch in the face,” Sinise said.
He hosted what he called “A Night of Enjoyment” — free of charge.
It wasn’t a fundraiser, it was just about putting smiles on peoples’ faces.
The night was dedicated to those who gave so much.
Mills asked Pam Archie if the night of enjoyment was working.
“It’s working,” she said, “It’s working.”
Archie is the mother-in-law of Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Helus — he was the first responder to reach Borderline and he was killed trying to save others.
“My daughter and my grandson are starting to heal. It’s gonna take a while,” Archie says.
Billy Hutton, a friend of one of the Borderline victims, was happy to see people upbeat.
“It’s very, very nice,” Hutton said, “to see people actually smiling. And having a good time. It’s been very, very tragic – very hard for these families since November 7th.”
“My neighbor lost his house. Firefighters saved my house,” says Ondrasik who calls Westlake Village home.
And he was also touched by the Borderline tragedy.
“I knew two of the children that lost their lives,” he says.
Five For Fighting songs have a way of resonating with listeners and that is no accident.
Under “Superman,” a video montage of Borderline victims played. Lots of tears accompanied his performance.
“They showed me the video a couple of days ago,” Ondrasik says, “And I couldn’t get through it.”
“In my ‘Superman’, Superman doesn’t want to be Superman. He’s a human being and he feels pain,” Ondrasik says.
If the point of the evening was to make people smile, Mills reports it was mission accomplished with everyone he spoke to saying they were glad they could be a part of the evening.