La Crosse business owner donates guitar to local soldier serving overseas

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- A small act of kindness and generosity is going a long way for a soldier from Sparta serving overseas.

He recently received a belated Christmas gift in the mail, one that has him singing the praises of a local business owner.

Mike Murnane of Sparta has loved music since he was a young boy. “He got interested in guitar when he was about in middle school,” said mom Denise.

He’s now 25 years old and serving as a sergeant in the Middle East with the Wisconsin National Guard’s 829 Engineer Company.

“I miss him. I do. I’m nothing but proud of him, but as a mom you worry. He’s a long ways away and it’s going to be a long time.”

It was especially hard not being together over the holidays, but Denise still wanted to send Mike a gift.

“He said, ‘well mom there’s not a whole lot to do here and I miss playing and I’d really like to have an inexpensive or used guitar.'”

“I got an email from this nice lady just looking for recommendations, said her son was serving in the military who was a bit bored over there and needed something to occupy his time and needed an idea for a guitar,” said Dave Rogers, owner of Dave’s Guitar Shop in La Crosse.

And if anyone knows guitars, it’s Dave Rogers. “I was like ‘oh sure I have ideas for you, just come in anytime.'”

Denise said, “Got an email back that said, the least I could do is donate it. I was overwhelmed.”

And without skipping a beat, Dave offered up a guitar to Mike, no strings attached. “It just seemed like the thing to do.”

“I said ‘hey what kind of music is your son into and she said ‘oh, he’s a rocker for sure so I went to our best rocker in the store and said ok, set this guy up with a cool guitar and an amp.'”

The decision to donate was an easy one. “Here’s this guy putting his life on the line. It just struck me as ‘oh my god, it’d be terrible. I couldn’t sleep at night if I charged for a guitar for that situation.”

Mike said, “We had to pick it up in the mailroom and take it back to our barracks and me carrying this big box, everyone’s asking, what’s in my box? and I’m like, ‘it’s Christmas and I got this huge grin on my face.'”

It didn’t take long for the guitar to become a hit on base. “It’s almost like having a piece of back home here, we can all just get together and play, take turns, just kind of share with each other the different kinds of music we like.”

Dave said, “To me a guitar has always been like the best shrink there is. If you’re down or ever got the blues or whatever, pick up a guitar and play it, not just a past time, but mentally curing I guess.”

The act of generosity has touched Mike and his mom.

“It’s very nice. It was way more than anything I could’ve ever expected. What I was expecting to get from my mom was some used, pawn shop guitar or something that had been beaten up and hand me down or whatever, but it’s a new guitar.”

“I didn’t expect a donation of that sort and I think it’s important to pay it forward. Dave made a significant contribution for my son and I’m paying it forward to a couple of other charities.”

One simple act of kindness, hitting all the right notes.

“Music is such an emotional thing and a healing thing, the more we can spread that joy, the better,” said Dave.

“It means so much to all of us over here. I really appreciate it.”

Not only did Dave donate the guitar and amp, he also threw in a guitar strap, a cable, a gig bag and a bunch of picks. He also paid for shipping all of these items to the Middle East.

Dave was a little embarrassed by the attention his kind act was getting, but again, said it was the thing to do.