Soldiers Hang With Toby

Upstate New York car dealership owner P.J. Simao showed his support for the troops recently by giving 125 tickets to a January 26th Toby Keith show at Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona to soldiers and their families at Fort Drum.

Simao, co-owner of DealMaker Auto Group, contacted Turning Stone’s entertainment director, Sam Madonia, shortly before tickets went on sale and requested 100 tickets to give to soldiers, Madonia told Pollstar.

When he asked if Simao was looking for a discount on the tickets, Simao told him no and requested the best seats available regardless of the cost, Madonia said.

A few days later, after tickets had gone on sale to the public, Simao contacted Madonia again and bought 25 more tickets. Simao spent a total of $15,625 on the tickets, paying $125 apiece.

Madonia informed Turning Stone CEO Ray Halbritter of what Simao was doing, and Halbritter was so impressed by Simao’s generosity toward the soldiers he told Madonia, "Sam, when they’re here, let’s give ‘em a real high-end dinner." Madonia said he made sure the soldiers were treated to the casino’s best, including lobster.

He also told Pollstar that when Toby Keith’s reps heard of what was going on, they contacted him about holding a raffle to choose six soldiers and their spouses to go backstage and meet Keith.

"Three people that didn’t know each other made 125 service guys very, very, very happy," Madonia said.