ROCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) — A small town in northern Indiana is getting ready to welcome hundreds of people for an annual concert named for a soldier killed in Iraq.
In 2007, Sergeant Nick Patterson was killed overseas while serving his second tour in “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
After the 24-year-old’s death, five of his best friends started the nonprofit organization, which provides college support to local graduating high school students. Every year, the foundation raises between $20,000 and $25,000. More than 50 high school students have been awarded $1,000 scholarships.
“He was everything you’d want in a friend,” best friend, Kiel Williams said. “I mean he gave his life to America so that should tell you enough about Nick there.”
The memorial concert is Saturday. There’s a silent auction the same night. Every dollar raised goes right to the fund, which is normally around $12,000.
Indiana country musician Clayton Anderson has always supported the military.
“People who leave their families and can pack up like that, I respect that because there is no way I could do it,” he said.
Anderson wanted to be apart of the memorial concert after a fan drove to one of his concerts in Fort Wayne to tell him about it.
“We all have those friends you know and Nick gave his life serving our country,” he said. “It’s really cool to celebrate him and also too it gets everybody together and it’s just a celebration of life. The concert is just kind of a fun extra thing.”
“It’s gotten bigger every year thanks to guys like Clayton,” Nick Patterson Community & Scholarship Fund board member, Austin Shepherd said. “He always makes sure to give us shout outs and puts little Rochester, Indiana on the map. Even Pat McAfee came up one year and enjoyed it with us. As long as we can keep this going, make Clayton a big star, we keep Nick’s name going, raising some money, it’s a win-win.”
The organization also gives back to the community. Just recently, they donated $20,000 to the Rochester Youth Baseball League. The diamond is now called the Nick Patterson Field.
“What you see is all new infrastructure from the grass, the dirt, the fence and now my son gets a chance to play here and it’s awesome,” Nick’s brother, Kyle McLochlin said.
“Kids are going to grow up and ask their parents about Nick Patterson and that’s the best thing we love to hear,” Williams said.
Since the nonprofit started in 2008, they’ve raised more than $100,000.
The concert is at the Rochester Moose Lodge. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. To get tickets or make a donation, call the lodge at 574-223-3914.