Inspirational Hamilton Helps ‘Celebrate our Greatest Citizens’ at MTSU Veteran Impact Celebration Fundraiser

Aug 28, 2023 at 04:20 pm by WGNS News

Scott Hamilton shares his life’s experiences — including battling cancer from birth to present and being an Olympic gold medalist skater.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Adopted son of a veteran and parents who were educators, Olympian and cancer survivor Scott Hamilton brought an inspirational message to 300 people attending the Veteran Impact Celebration, raising funds for Middle Tennessee State University’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.

“We wouldn’t be standing here without veterans,” said Hamilton, a Nashville, Tennessee, resident, speaking before the sixth annual event held in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. “It’s a calling, which you’ll never talk anyone into it and never talk anyone out of it.”


The fundraiser benefits the Daniels Center, one of the largest and most comprehensive veterans center on any Tennessee higher education campus, supporting the 1,000-plus military-connected student population with a one-stop shop to meet a variety of academic and social needs.

By night’s end, thousands of dollars were raised through silent (online) and live auctions and other corporate and individual contributions from alumni and university friends and MTSU faculty, staff and administrators.

“What a night,” Hamilton exclaimed before embarking on his lifelong journey, starting from birth. “I’m so humbled and honored. It’s an event to celebrate our greatest citizens (veterans). … The Charlie Daniels Center is an encouragement platform.”

Hamilton, whose encouraging talk brought tears to some, later told the audience their gifts will give student-veterans “a path toward citizenship and a path toward integrity. … Dig deep. It’s a phenomenal investment. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and grateful Gen. (Keith) Huber is a friend.”

Huber, retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who had a 38-year military career, is senior adviser for veterans and leadership activities at MTSU.

Alumnae and WSMV News 4 morning anchor Holly Thompson was master of ceremonies.

Alumnus Corbitt Huseth of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, the first graduating student-veteran to receive three red stoles from the university for earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, talked about his experience with the center and introduced a video highlighting some of the work performed at the center.

Veteran Leader Award - MTSU alumnus Jay Strobino, field representative for U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, received the Veteran Leader Award, recognizing an individual who is a U.S. military veteran who, after military service, continues to serve by giving back to the community. Strobino, who survived being shot 13 times on the right side of his body in one-on-one combat with an enemy soldier while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2006, called it “an incredible honor.”

Veteran Community Partner Award - The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project received the Veteran Community Partner Award, recognizing an individual or organization creating opportunities for veterans and their families to successfully transition to the civilian world through programs and philanthropic efforts.

David Corlew, business partner with Daniels for 47 years, accepted the award for Hazel Daniels, Charlie Daniels Jr. and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, an MTSU alumnus. Corlew said “it has been a joy to work with you in this partnership.”

Corporate partners - The Veteran Impact Celebration’s title sponsor is Nashville-based Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical. 

Hiller owner Jimmy Hiller, the recipient of the inaugural Veteran Employer Award in 2022, said the center’s availability “brings it back home. What people forget about is all the good people — Gen. Huber, Dr. (Hilary) Miller (center director) and veterans — providing support every day.”

USAA is the general's sponsor. Censis Technologies Inc., The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, CoreCivic Foundation, Delta Dental of Tennessee and the Nashville Predators are diamond sponsors. 

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