Five years ago, 48-year-old veteran and professional comedian Christopher Cannon started selling toy parachute jumpers after his shows to raise funds for the Florida-based Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps injured soldiers re-adjust to civilian life.
Three years later, he founded Comics for Courage, a "Laff-a-Thon" that's now a certified Wounded Warrior touring event. Comicsfourcourage.com describes the idea as a marathon without the running: "Laffers" pay $10 to sign up online, aiming to get 10 friends to donate $10 each. When turning in a full form and $100 at the door, the laffer gets into the performance free; pledges exceeding $100 earn the laffer his or her $10 registration fee back.
Cannon, who served as an Army tank commander for five years in Europe, says the Wounded Warrior Project is "a link between the circumstances that [soldiers are] in and establishing themselves back in civilian society."
Upon return home, every wounded soldier receives a backpack filled with amenities like clothing, toiletries and a calling card from the organization. The group also helps with job placement, and even flies some wounded veterans to Colorado to teach them how to ski on new prosthetic limbs.
Cannon hopes that his May 13 event at Loonee's Comedy Corner will attract 100 sponsored laffers and fund between 50 and 100 backpacks. While we don't see as much of the wars on the news these days, Cannon reminds that many soldiers continue to return injured. He wants to bring our attention back to those making a sacrifice: "It's American thing, it's not separate from our everyday lives."
It's also a Springs thing.
"Without the bases and Air Force Academy, what would Colorado Springs be?" asks the Brighton native, pointing out how these wounded soldiers are our family, friends and neighbors. "I just want to try and bridge the gap between the people that aren't involved in the military and the military themselves.
"These people are part of us," he says. "They stood up and raised their hand and said, 'I will protect you.'"
Along with Cannon, SiTV's Mike Siscoe and Baltimore-based comedian Larry XL will perform for the event, which is being held in conjunction with Armed Forces Week.