Trace Adkins with Kempy Stark of Rebuilding Together, Davenport, IA
"As much as I've been traveling around, I've seen people selflessly do things for other people and I just thought they never get a pat on the back," Trace tells The Boot. "Nobody really does reality shows about people that help other people. There always has to be drama tied to it. I don't want to do that. Let's just find good people that help other people and give them a pat on the back. It's as simple as that."
"Great American Heroes" celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The 10 cities featured in the series were stops along Trace's summer Songs and Stories tour and include: Salina, KS; Charleston, SC; Davenport, IA; Atlanta, GA; Easton, PA; Bakersfield, CA; Hyannis, MA; Grand Rapids, MI; Philadelphia, MS and Knoxville, TN. Three heroes were chosen in each city.
"We would send some folks in there ahead of time and they would contact members of the community whether it was the town council or whatever," he says. "There were all different channels they used to find these folks. We had to seek these people out. These are not people looking for the spotlight or recognition."
"Great American Heroes" spotlights people who are making a difference in their community. Among those featured on the show are Steve Kmetz, who runs the Salina Rescue Mission where they teach construction skills to the homeless to provide them with experience that could help them land a job and hero Ron Acierno with Veterans on Deck in Charleston, SC, an organization that teaches sailing to veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.
"There's something unique about every one of them," says Trace of the heroes spotlighted on the show. "There's a 13-year-old girl that has a garden and she gets all of her friends to help her work in it and they take all the food to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters. And she's just a kid! Then there's another young lady who is collecting used books and has taken it upon herself to get them to people that would like to have them. There are all kinds of things.
Trace with Fred Thomas of Beasly's Downtown Boxing Club in Davenport, IA
"There are countless people that are doing stuff for the troops," Trace continues. "There's never a shortage of those folks and we highlight a few of them. We could have done the whole show on people like that. Then there are folks that share their talents and experience they've gained from decades in the business community. They share with people and give them the tools they need to be successful in their lives. These people have no financial incentive to be doing this. These are all people who have seen the need and said, 'I can step into that breach. I can fill that need. I can help in this area.' That's what all these people have in common. They saw a need and took it upon themselves to do something about it."
In shooting the show, Trace would usually go into town the day before his concert and would often lend a hand to the local heroes doing everything from stuffing care packages for the soldiers to building sheds and reading to elementary school children. However, Trace downplays his contributions, preferring to focus on the hometown heroes. "This is not a show about how many things we can watch Trace do. This show is not about me," he says. "I'm going to be the vessel. I'm going to be the facilitator to get these people's message out and give them some well-deserved recognition. This is a show about highlighting the efforts of other folks."
Trace and hero Craig Bautz of CAPEable Adventures in Hyannis, MA
The heroes in each city were Trace's special guests at his concert where he brought up on stage and introduced them to their hometown crowd. Each hero was also surprised with a special gift benefiting their organization.
Shooting the show, touring and working on his upcoming album have made it a hectic summer for Trace, but he's settled into a groove and is getting it all done. "I've been busy. That's all there is to it," he admits. "What we would do, we would take the first show of every week, usually that's on a Thursday and that would be the city we'd do our hero show in. I'd get there early Wednesday morning and we would spend the whole day Wednesday with them then we'd finish up a few things on Thursday, the day of the show. We'd get it done in a couple days."
Trace hopes "Great American Heroes" will encourage others to make a difference in their community. "That would be nice, but if you don't have time, then make a contribution to someone in your community that you know is doing this kind of stuff," he says. "If you don't have time to do it yourself, find a person who is doing it and help them out whether that be a financial gift or whatever. Everybody can help somehow."