Comedy benefit seeks to help Hoosier veterans, families

John Brady, a Vietnam vet, meets Darin Fishburn
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A national veterans group is bringing comic relief to town to address the serious needs of families of wounded and fallen troops.

Eyewitness News reveals the inspiration behind the tour, and why a well-known name in police circles is offering helping hands to veterans.

A chance meeting along the Indiana War Memorial Plaza.

"I'm a disabled American veteran because I was shot in both knees," said John Brady, a Vietnam veteran upon meeting Darin Fishburn. He's a man with a familiar name now reaching out to veterans.

"It's a shame it didn't happen sooner for you," said Fishburn, acknowledging the lack of support Vietnam veterans received when they first came home from war.

You might remember Fishburn at his family's side in 2008, after his nephew IMPD Officer Jason Fishburn was shot in the head during a police chase.

"We believe in a higher power. Service to others is more important than anything we can do," said Darin Fishburn as he and his family rallied support during the first critical hours after the shooting.

His service inspired prayers, and financial support for "Fish" and other wounded police officers. Now he's turned that energy to a different battle, this one for the families of wounded and fallen troops.

"Some of them need their house paid, some of them need utilities," Fishburn, the CEO of the not-for-profit group Helping Hands for Freedom told Eyewitness News.

The idea is to fill the financial gap during the benefit process.

"These families are in mourning. Second of all they're worried how they're going to make it without the bread winner, and then if the bread winner does survive, and is lying in Walter Reed for a year with surgeries, what happens next?" explained Fishburn.

"I think it's amazing. We need someone to help us out," said Brady.

On Memorial Day weekend, Helping Hands wants to give 17 Indiana families a lift with a show of some of the funniest headliners from HBO and cable TV.

"It's a comedy tour. What we forget to do when we're mourning and when we're sad is to laugh. Laughter heals," said Fishburn with a smile.

Fishburn says the proceeds from the show will stay in Indiana, home to the group's co-founder Staff Sergeant Patrick Shannon.

But Fishburn is just getting started, reaching out across state lines to survivors in their time of need.

"Thanks for your service," Fishburn called out in support, as Vietnam Veteran John Brady walked away.

The comedy show is Friday May 24th at the Old National Centre Downtown.

The line-up features "The Uncut Diva Luenell and Friends," including Marcus Combs of HBO Def Comedy Jam, Robert "Sweaty Hands" Day of Comic Review,  Juan Villareal of the Carlos Mencia Tour and Cory Fernandez of BET's One Mic Stand hosted by Kevin Hart. Special guest Ron "The Clownn" Anderson will also make an appearance.

Also, this Wednesday (April 10) at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, there will be a job fair specifically for veterans and their spouses. See more information.