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CD sales to benefit wounded veterans

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
'Dirt Road Sunset' has recorded two CDs with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. A third CD is planned. This is the front of the group's first CD.
'Dirt Road Sunset' has recorded two CDs with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. A third CD is planned. This is the back of the group's first CD.
'Dirt Road Sunset' has recorded two CDs with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. A third CD is planned. This is the front of the group's second CD. From left are George Estochin, John Bienia and Sandy Smith.
'Dirt Road Sunset' has recorded two CDs with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. A third CD is planned. This is the back of the group's second CD.

One father's dedication to his daughter and other wounded veterans has brought him and his band mates together with a well-known local country music artist to raise money to honor and empower these living heroes.

In 2010, George Estochin of Melcroft and his wife Mary's lives were changed forever when their daughter, Laura Estochin, a specialist promotable in the Army, was severely wounded on a special mission.

Estochin said their daughter sustained several injuries including to her left leg, which has extensive muscle and tissue damage.

“She was honorably discharged from the Army due to her disability. Now she lives in Aberdeen, Md., and spends a great deal of time going to Johns Hopkins University Hospital and Perry Point Veterans Administration Hospital,” he said. “She lives in constant pain. On a normal day, her pain level of 1 to 10 is 8. They are still trying to save her leg.”

Estochin said his daughter's injuries opened his eyes to all the other soldiers who face many challenges returning home with life-altering injuries. He decided he needed to do something to help them.

“Because of what happened to my daughter, it really brought it to light. I had to do something not only for her but for all the wounded warriors from all branches of our military, because they've done their duty to protect our country and it's the least we can do to give back to them,” he said.

Last winter, Estochin, a musician, got back together with his former band, Dirt Road Sunset, which includes John Bienia of Mt. Pleasant Township and Sandy Smith of Normalville. The group began writing and recording songs for a CD that would be sold with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project.

“We had just decided to get back together and start recording, and then we learned about Wounded Warriors and I said, ‘Fellas, I have an idea to give part of our profits to Wounded Warriors,' and they were all for it,” Estochin said.

The Wounded Warrior Project is an organization that raises awareness and enlists the public's aid for the needs of injured service members; helps injured service members aid and assist each other; and provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

“His daughter was a wounded warrior, and I thought it was an opportunity to do something to help others and get our music heard at the same time,” Bienia said. It's a win win as far as I'm concerned.”

Since January, the group has recorded two CDs — “All Roads Lead Home” and “Waiting for The Sunrise” — featuring Kortney Jean. Both CDs have been selling well, and Bienia said they are working on a third.

“We're working on a special song for the veterans,” he said. “We write uplifting songs that we hope uplift other people and, for the case of the veterans, I believe these are perfect songs because of everything they have to deal with; these are the perfect songs because they are so positive.”

Estochin said he turns all proceeds from sales of the CDs over to Brandon Miller, coordinator of the annual Wounded Warrior Motorcycle Run in Mt. Pleasant, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It means a lot,” Miller said. “It helps to pay for all the T-shirts we sell to make money for the project, and it helps pay for advertising, the yard signs, tickets, silverware and other items we need for the event.

“This year, we were able to raise $10,900, and we are still selling T-shirts,” he added.

Estochin said he will travel anywhere to raise money for the project, sometimes standing 12-14 hours a day in front of stores.

He said the group hopes people open their hearts for this project, which is near and dear to the group.

CDs can be purchased at Family Dollar, Route 31 in Donegal; Miller Refrigeration, 108 W. Main St., Mt. Pleasant; and CD Warehouse in Greensburg and Monroeville.

CDs also can be purchased by calling Estochin at 724-455-3369 or mailing a check or money order to P.O. Box 170, Melcroft, PA. Cost is $10 each.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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