Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bruce Atlas' 'Give Love Tour' Honors Son and Vets


By Darlene Donloe

Bruce Atlas remembers vividly when he got the news that his son, Marcus Allen Tynes, 19, had been killed in Afghanistan.

“They were out on patrol,” says Atlas. “He was in the lead Humvee. He stopped because something didn’t feel right.  They waited and then said to go. He said, no.  They waited and a few 100 yards later – the pressure plate exploded.”

PFC Marcus Allen Tynes was killed.  It was devastating to Atlas and his wife. But instead of sinking into despair, Atlas decided to be proactive. He decided to do something.

He channeled his pain and grief by launching The Marcus Heart Foundation, named after his son, fallen soldier, PFC Marcus Allen Tynes, a member of the United States Army who was killed in Zabul Province, Afghanistan by a roadside bomb while serving our country. The Marcus Heart Foundation charges the communities of Southern California to “get up, remember, give thanks and to love a veteran”!  

Wanting to give back to veterans and to pay homage to his son, Atlas also introduced a three-day Give Love Tour.

The event, which takes place in Ontario, CA at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, kicks off this Saturday, Nov. 9 and includes a Free Family Fun Festival comprised of over 100 vendors, live performances, kid zones, a Food Drive, a motorcycle run and giveaways.  All veterans in attendance will be honored with a meal and special notes of love from the community on the “wall of love.” They will also receive special thanks from various city, state and government officials. 

A concert will also take place featuring Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Ledisi, The Whispers and Howard Hewett. 

The event will culminate Mon., Nov. 11, when homeless veterans will be picked up from homeless shelters and given meals and other items.

I caught up with Atlas to talk about the celebration and the tribute to his son.

DD: I know that The Marcus Heart Foundation is named after your son  - Marcus Allen Tynes. Tell me about the Foundation and tell me about Marcus.

BA:  When this situation happened, my wife did not want him to go. She struggled with it. His mind was made up. He was a community kid. He would help. He had a plan. At 18, he was with Riverside Explorers. He knew what he was up against. He wanted to do this for the country. When it happened she couldn’t get her mind around it. I told her she had to guard her mind.

DD: I can’t even imagine your loss.

BA: This was the worst day of my life. When he left, my wife was worried about his safety. I told my wife not to worry about it until they show up at the door. I told her they won’t email, they will come to the house. Then, they came to the house.

DD: So, why the foundation?

BA: I thought it would be great to have a foundation so she could talk about it and have that help. It was formed to work with kids coming out of high school who were not sure what they wanted to do. Our goal is to help them get an education.

DD: What about the military?

BA: The military is ok. A lot of kids get scholarships. We stepped in to bridge the gap for those who only get partial scholarships. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting them a bus pass.

DD: What else?

BA: Last year we helped kids get meal plans. Some scholarships don’t cover that. They were eating fast food and hot Cheetos. They need proper food.
We were able to go in and provide meals. We contacted the school they are attending and we told them we will pay for a meal plan for a semester. It’s $1200 for three meals a day. $800 for two meals.

DD: How many scholarships have you given since 2010?

BA: Twelve scholarships. Sometimes it depends on the field. A grant will cover uniforms. The money varies. It can be as little as $69 for a bus pass. It was $4,500 for a young lady at Azusa Pacific. She had a balance. She wants to be a doctor. She has the ability, passion and drive. She is from a disadvantaged family. She couldn’t pay the balance. So we paid the arrears so she could register. 


DD: How do you get the word out about scholarships?

BA: We come under the umbrella of the Community Foundation. They go out to colleges and let them know scholarships are available.

DD: Talk about starting the foundation?

BA: In starting the foundation we wanted to make sure we leave a legacy in our son’s name. The Give Love Tour was set up because Veterans Day is just a day off for most people. They just stay home and watch a game. We don’t’ get in touch with veterans on that day. We went to celebration one year and there were 65 people there. The next times was inclement weather and there were 13 people there.  Can’t we give them one day? We wanted to make sure that long after we’re gone - one kid will be able to say they got to college through The Marcus Heart Foundation.

DD: Why did you think this was the best way to give back?

BA: Thought of it as being a movement and celebrating the day where everyone will spend that day with vets. Next year our plan is to take it to six states. In 10 years it will be a day where people are honoring vets. It will become a day of thank you. I want people to come out and spend some time.

DD: Were you involved with vets before the death of your son?

BA: Before Marcus’ death I wasn’t involved on the level I should have been. Before him they were making ultimate sacrifices. But it didn’t sink as deep.

DD: Talk about putting this whole thing together and why it’s a three-day event.

BA: This is a big effort. Between Ontario and San Diego there are 23 military installations. In Riverside County we’re in a military town. It wasn’t until Marcus got killed that the blinders were on. We’ve never had a banner program before, so we started one. 

DD: It’s three days!!!

BA: Yes, it’s a three-day event. We decided to have an event where the community can be involved. We can bring out active duty vets. We started looking at making this a non-perishable food drive. The we thought, the first day would be a festival. Lets have a concert and vets can enjoy a full day. We’ll have the Rolling Thunder around the arena to open the show. We have a zip line, face painters, balloon artists. Everyone wants to get involved. There is also a chili cook off. We thought what a great thing for the community to show love.

DD:  Talk about the artists involved.

BA: I have a limo service. For years I have driven Frankie Beverly and Maze. We have a great relationship. I thought they would be great. They are performing. We have The Whispers. It’s their 50th anniversary. It’s great to make them a part of this.

DD: How much are you hoping to raise?

BA: This event – it’s free to the public and to the military. It’s an eye-opener. We are asking people to pay for the concert. We’re asking everyone to support.  The price is $39-$99. A-list artist at that price is unheard of.

DD: What are your thoughts about the military?

BA: I think the military is a great place for young people who don’t’ know what they want to do. It has a great work ethic, not to mention the discipline. It allows young kids to grow up. I saw a change in Marcus at his graduation from boot camp. It prepares them better for life. I’m not against the military because of what happened. It’s a civic duty.

DD: Where can we find you on Nov 11 every year?

BA: You will find me at a Give Love event.

The Give Love Tour begins  at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764 Lot F.

For information: or

About The Marcus Heart Foundation:
The Marcus Heart Foundation, under the umbrella of The Community Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit organization serving the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in conjunction with various community partners) was created in loving memory of fallen soldier, PFC Marcus Allen Tynes, a member of the United States Army who was killed in Zabul Province, Afghanistan at the very young age of 19 by a roadside bomb while serving our Country. The foundation is dedicated to providing college tuition assistance to high school graduates who are
ambitious and seeking to make a life changing decision to pursue higher academic goals. In honor of this proud young hero, the Give Love Tour, Family Fun Festival and Veterans Appreciation Run will raise funds, awareness and non-perishable food items for active, deployed, wounded, veterans, fallen heroes and their families. 

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