By Lindsey Seavert
MINNEAPOLIS (KARE) - Legions of fans know him as Lt. Dan from the movie Forrest Gump, but actor Gary Sinise took the stage in Minneapolis Sunday night in what he calls one of his most important roles.
It's an opportunity for him to give back to wounded veterans.
Sinise's Lt. Dan Band headlined a show at the Pantages Theater, a tribute to Minneapolis Marine Cpl. Mark Litynski, who lost three limbs in combat.
"It's a very dangerous world and I don't think we can take the freedom providers for granted and when they get hurt, like Mark Litynski has, (When) they lose parts of themselves and are going to face life challenges for the rest of their lives. If I can do something to help them and to let them know we appreciate it and don't take it for granted, that is the way I can serve," said Sinise.
Litynski was 24-years-old when an IED blast ripped off both of his legs and most of his left arm in November of 2010, slashing into his remaining arm, shattering his pelvis and driving a rock into his abdomen.
Sinise's foundation, along with the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, have teamed up to build 20 homes this year across the country for veterans who have lost multiple limbs. The smart homes average around $500,000 and are built through the Building for America's Bravest program.
"I don't feel I deserve it but I sure do appreciate everyone coming out to support me," said Litynski. "Our lives are still just as good after the injury because of people like Gary and everyone that is behind us."
"If we can give them an opportunity by providing a living space that can meet the challenge they have physically and make a more independent life at home, that gives them a chance at a happy life," said Sinise.
Right now, Litynski says he has to hop from his wheelchair onto the countertop to reach something from his cupboard. A smart home could lower both the countertops and cupboards to his level, all with the touch of a button on an iPhone or iPad.
One hundred percent of Sunday's ticket proceeds will go towards Litynski's home. Businessman William J. Popp will make a donation matching the total ticket sale amount.
Sinise says his band is a nonprofit and doesn't earn any money from his tours. Sunday, he appreciated a role reversal, saying this is his way of serving, with Mark Litynski as the star.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak even declared Aug. 4 as Cpl. Mark Litynski Day.
"Just like that feather that floats over here you never know where it's gonna go," said Sinise.
Mark and his wife Heather are looking for a plot of land in Minnesota to have the smart home built. He says he's looking forward to having a family and going back to school.
If you'd like to help, the Building for America's Bravest program accepts online donations.