A Successful Madison Operation

By Marisa Nadolny
Published on 3/2/2006

Madison - What is the true mark of a success? Money? Fame? How about an endorsement from singer-songwriter David Crosby, a mountain of donated, quality keyboards and guitars, and free web hosting for a year?

Operation: Music Aid, the brainchild of Madison Music Center owner George Hauer and Clark Kniceley, has reaped the benefits of a good idea and dogged advocating—and those benefits are quickly filling up the music center at Orchard Park.

Operation: Music Aid seeks to collect funds to purchase instruments that will be sent to U.S. military hospitals. Describing the project, Hauer says, “These instruments will help our young wounded servicemen regain their dignity and help with their physical and psychological rehabilitation, as well as their morale. We don't want to let them be forgotten.”

It is Hauer's concern that these servicemen have something to look forward to, something to do, while they are recuperating from their injuries and after they are discharged from the hospital.

When he launched the project in December, Hauer noted, “Imagine someone 21, 22 years old missing an eye, missing a hand or a leg,” he says. “He's got hopefully 60, 70 years left...what's he going to do for 60 years?”

For starters, he or she can learn to play guitar, piano, or harmonica, thanks to generous donations from companies like Yamaha, Hohner, and Korg, among others. Hauer and Kniceley plan to leave Friday, en route to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to personally deliver a truck-load of keyboards, Hohner harmonicas (more than 200 of them, plus neck-holders), and guitars—each complete with a Yamaha carrying case, Korg tuner, 10 custom-made Operation: Music Aid guitar picks from Ernie Ball, a Levy's guitar strap, and a set of Hohner strings. One shipment of instruments and equipment has arrived already at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Hauer received notification of its successful delivery on Tuesday.

With all that packing and traveling to do, it's a good thing Hauer and Kniceley have done it all with a little help from their friends. Beyond the plentiful donations of musical instruments, BlueLine IT of Columbus Ohio set up a website for Operation: Music Aid, pro bono. BlueLine will host the site for free for a year as its donation to Operation: Music Aid. Sportscasters, a rock club in Lima, Ohio, has announced it will donate the proceeds from its cover charges to Operation: Music Aid.

The Hilliard Jones Cookson Unit 66 American Women's Auxiliary of Clinton has lent the project its support with a donation of $500; Lavinia Dale of Milford, in memory of her late husband, donated a Kurzweil Mark 5 piano—a piano with a retail value of more than $5,000. The piano will be donated to a non-denominational chapel at a military hospital.

State Representative Deb Heinrich and State Senator Ed Meyer have publicly endorsed Operation: Music Aid, as will David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, & Nash. The plan is when Crosby returns from his latest tour, he'll begin to spread the word about Operation: Music Aid.

And that's a good thing, because the organization can still use a boost. As part of a new fundraising initiative, supporters can wear their endorsement with the purchase of a $15 Operation: Music Aid T-shirt (donated by Zuse Inc. of Guilford). However, checks and money orders, made out to Operation: Music Aid, are still most welcome.

Hauer said, “It's growing very rapidly, but it's very dependent on public support. We really hope people will take a moment and send even a small check to Operation: Music Aid.”

He added, “Even though the young men and women who will be receiving the instruments may never meet you personally, rest assured they will benefit from your generosity.”

To lend your support to Operation: Music Aid, send donations to Operation: Music Aid, P.O. Box 303, Madison, CT 06443; or call 203-318-5007.