The controversy surrounding Tim McGraw’s scheduled benefit concert for Sandy Hook Promise on July 17th at the Infinity Theater in Hartford, Connecticut continues as now 11 of the Sandy Hook families who either had children or other families members killed at the school have come out with a public statement clarifying that they will not be receiving any money from the concert. However, whether this was from a significant point of misunderstanding or just another attempt at politicizing and discrediting the event remains in question.
Tim McGraw announced the Connecticut show as part of his Shotgun Rider tour would be a benefit on April 13th, with 100% of the proceeds going to Sandy Hook Promise a non-profit set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre. This stimulated conservative news site Brietbart to post a story politicizing the tour stop as a “Gun Control Fundraiser,” and causing Billy Currington to back out after a backlash ensued with some fans, including some labeling McGraw and Currington as “un-American,” “socialists,” and calling for a boycott of their music. Subsequently Tim McGraw, and the other show opener Chase Bryant, have reaffirmed their intent to move forward with the benefit.
On Wednesday, April 22nd, the families of children Charlotte Bacon, Josephine Gay, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez Greene, James Mattioli. Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Jessica Rekos and Avielle Richman, as well as the daughters of Principal Dawn Hochsprung and the family of teacher Victoria Soto all signed a letter stating they had no affiliation with Sandy Hook Promise, and would not be receiving any funds from the benefit.
However some news outlets only ran partial excerpts of the three-paragraph statement, including the Harford Courant and others, leaving out a key clarification from the families that they do not take issue with Sandy Hook Promise, or any perceived gun control provisions they may champion, only that they did not want potential donors believing them money was going to them. “Our decision to publicly address this matter is not related to a position regarding any of the complex issues surrounding our tragedy, as recent news reports have suggested (i.e. the gun debate, mental health, etc.),” the letter states.
Whether a large number of potential donors were being misled that funds were going to families of victims remains in question. The main issue surrounding the event before the letter from the 11 families was if Sandy Hook Promise should be considered a gun control organization as conservative news site Brietbart has stated, or if as Sandy Hook Promise states, the organization is not focused on politics or gun control, but working in the private sector and with communities in the realm of mental health and safety.
Here is the full text from the 11 Sandy Hook families.
We, the undersigned families of loved ones killed in the Sandy Hook School tragedy, wish to publicly state that we are not associated with or supported by the Sandy Hook Promise organization. We make this statement following the recent announcement of a donation of proceeds from Tim McGraw’s July 17th concert in Hartford, CT, and many resulting inquiries as to whether we receive support from this organization.
Our decision to publicly address this matter is not related to a position regarding any of the complex issues surrounding our tragedy, as recent news reports have suggested (i.e. the gun debate, mental health, etc.). We wish only to provide clarification for the many generous donors that believe they are directly supporting the families at the center of this tragedy by contributing to the Sandy Hook Promise origination.
We are profoundly grateful for the charitable intentions and efforts of so many friends, neighbors, and citizens worldwide.
Sandy Hook Promise then responded by saying,
Sandy Hook Promise is an independent, national non-profit organization led by several Sandy Hook family members who lost loved ones in the shooting on December 14, 2012. Our mission is to protect children and prevent gun violence by providing awareness, education and programs in the areas of mental health, mental wellness and gun safety.
The proceeds from this concert do not directly benefit any family or family foundation, including those families who lead Sandy Hook Promise. All proceeds benefit our non-profit 501(c)3 Foundation which funds our protection and prevention programs. These initiatives in turn will help hundreds of thousands of children and familiesacross the country. Though all our materials and fundraising options make this clear, we thank the families that signed the letter to reinforce to their donors that the proceeds benefit Sandy Hook Promise.
Meanwhile country group Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet recently came out in support of the Sandy Hook Promise benefit. “It is depressing that people have that much time and energy to invest, when they could be doing better things, like educating their child and loving people in the world instead of attacking someone who’s trying to do something good, like Tim McGraw. Why would you want to attack that?”
Tim McGraw has personal ties to the Sandy Hook story. His touring fiddle player Dean Brown is a long-time friend of Mark Barden, whose child was killed in the mass shooting, and who is also one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise. Though Sandy Hook Promise does include numerous family members of victims of the tragedy, including some of the organization’s full time employees, it does not represent all of the victims. This issue has been a point of discussion surrounding Sandy Hook Promise and their fundraising before.