In April 2004, Tillman died in Afghanistan after being mistaken for an enemy combatant and shot by his own troops during an intense firefight.
The selflessness of his actions and his subsequent death made a huge impression on Roswell resident George Ausman. “He was really quite a guy. I had to do something to honor him,” Ausman said.
It was the genesis of the We Will Not Forget Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarship funds to children who have lost a parent in the U.S. military services.
On Saturday, five-time Grammy Award winner B.J. Thomas returns for an 8 p.m. concert at the center. All proceeds will be used to further the We Will Not Forget Foundation’s mission. District 56 State Sen. John Albers, a Roswell resident, will host the event. In addition to the concert there will be a silent auction, a raffle and book signings in the lobby by three local authors, Bob Babcock, Harmon Snipes and George Weinstein.
“It has been my privilege to support the We Will Not Forget Foundation for the past few years,” Albers said. “September 11th forever changed America and we have a duty to those children whose parents made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Former Roswell city councilman and attorney Steve Dorvee, one of the foundation’s board members, said the foundation “grew out of the passion of George and his wife C.W. to help. Rather than look to others, they just started the foundation and have been having benefit concerts every six months to a year for many years.”
It is a small foundation trying to grow, Dorvee said, “so that we can help more kids. Those that work with the foundation are strong believers in education and through it, want these kids to know that someone cares about the sacrifice that their parents made.”
Tickets are $30; “meet and greet” tickets are $60. They are available on line at www.wwnff.org or by calling the center’s box office at (770) 641-1260.
None of the people associated with the foundation are compensated. Ausman’s wife, C.W. Sturgeon, does all the flyers and posters for the concerts, and Ausman tries to find sponsors. Even the bartender on the evening of the concert donates services, Ausman said.
“Everyone is a volunteer, with all proceeds helping the kids,” Albers said.
Ausman said he would welcome any help from the community in recruiting sponsors or organizing future events. “Some local companies have been very helpful by giving us a couple of hundred dollars to offset expenses, but we have never been able to attract a major sponsor,” he said. “So we’ve only been able to give out $5,000 in scholarships in five years. We’re really hoping this year to do $10,000 with this concert so we can give 10 scholarships.” Anyone who would like to help grow the foundation or make a donation may contact Ausman at the We Will Not Forget Foundation, www.wwnff.org.