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Dave and Dujanovic: Country music star helps raise $47,000 in honor of fallen officer Joseph Shinners

Country superstar Billy Dean performs one of two concerts at Provo's Covey Center for the Arts. Dean performed to help raise money to send the family of Provo police officer Joseph Shinners, killed in the line of duty, to an event in D.C. that honors such officers.

PROVO — Country music superstar Billy Dean flew into Utah last week with his golden voice and a heart the size of Texas to perform two concerts at Covey Center for the Arts in downtown Provo.

His goal was to raise thousands of dollars to send family members and colleagues of fallen Provo Police Officer Joseph Shinners to Washington D.C. in May, to honor his memory at an annual law enforcement memorial ceremony.

Shinners was shot and killed on Jan. 5, 2019, at the age of 29, while apprehending a wanted suspect.

Dean took the stage over two nights and entertained the audience with his smash hits like “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” “Let Them Be Little,” and “We’re Only Here For a Little While.”

In-between songs Dean engaged the crowd with personal stories about his journey as a country music singer and songwriter.

He shared the tale of a time when he and a group of songwriters were tasked with penning a love song for George Strait. Dean said the group never got the “creative juices” flowing to hit the mark for Mr. Strait, but along the way, they shared laughs as they wrote a fun tune called “Good Brown Gravy.”

Dean said they never expected “Good Brown Gravy” to go beyond the writers’ room at the record label where they worked, but it did – eventually finding its way on a Joe Diffie album.

Dean wowed the crowd with his walk down memory lane, telling one-of-a-kind stories about the time he worked beside country greats liked Dolly Parton and Mel Tillis.

In the lobby of the theater, the Provo Police Department had everything from T-shirts for sale, to barbecue sauce and ladders for a raffle.

In all, the concert, auction, and raffle raised an astounding $46,403.

The total raised to date, including a GoFund me account is $64,563.

Their goal is $85,000

Opinion: How country superstar Billy Dean helped us see good over evil

Several weeks ago Provo City asked me to emcee both concerts. I had no idea how much the experience would light up my life.

In all honesty, the murders of our police officers have emotionally worn me down. My deep-rooted worry that evil is winning over good took root in January 2016, when my dear friend, Officer Doug Barney, was shot and killed in the line of duty while patrolling the streets of Holladay, Utah. A single bullet ended his life and altered mine.

When I spoke to  Officer Shinner’s mom, Kathy, at a luncheon in-between both concerts, she looked me in the eye and told me that hearing Billy Dean’s smooth voice and reassuring lyrics made her feel hope, something she hadn’t felt in the year since her son’s death.

I realized, I felt that same hope.

His widow, Kaylyn Shinner, seemed to have a little spark in her eyes too. Something I hadn’t seen weeks earlier when she came to KSL Newsradio to promote the concerts.

During Friday night’s intermission I looked up and there was Kaylyn. She was wearing a warm smile and holding her beautiful baby, Colton. She’d heard I wanted to hold Colton so she placed him in my arms as Billy stood beside us, guitar in hand, trying to decipher Colton’s sweet baby chatter.

Billy, Colton, and Kaylyn snapped a photo together before Billy returned to stage.

Earlier in the day, Billy had strummed and sang that toe-tapping tune “Good Brown Gravy” to Kaylyn, then signed the guitar he played and handed it to her.

Watching both moments, I felt joy.

But for a country superstar with a heart as big as his hits, that wasn’t enough. Just after he gave Kaylyn that guitar, he told me he was going to write the lyrics of his smash song “Let Them Be Little” on another guitar that we could auction off at Friday night’s concert.

And sure enough, after Billy sang his heart out in his first set that night, he left the stage sweating — which I saw as a sign of pure commitment to the cause. As he walked off for a short break,  I walked onto the stage with Provo Police Capt. Troy Beebe.

Now, to be clear, neither one of us is an auctioneer, so keeping track of the folks shouting bids from the audience got a little rough. But it was clear we were all in it together and as the bids started to go up, so did my spirit.

In the end, Billy Dean’s signed, glossy black guitar sold for $3,500. I gasped and Billy ran back out, personally thanking the couple who won it and bringing them on stage for pictures.

Over both days it became clear to me that Billy’s generosity is bottomless. After the show, one bidder who lost out on that specially-signed guitar approached members of the Provo Police Department to say if Billy would sign another guitar she’d donate $3,500 too. Captain Troy Beebe told me Billy stuck around until 1 am, long after the concert had ended, to get another guitar and sign it for her.

I was in awe when I got word that we’d collected a total of  $7,000 for two of Billy Dean’s guitars.

I was in awe of a country star I had spent most of the 90’s singing along with in my car. I was in awe of the Provo Police Department and the city for putting on a successful fundraiser to honor one of their own. I was in awe of Officer Shinners’ family for their grace. I was in awe of an audience who so willingly opened their hearts and their wallets.

I don’t know if they realized this or not, but what they did will stay with me far beyond the May journey back to Washington DC to honor Officer Shinners.

I want to thank every one of them for renewing my hope — that good can prevail over evil. Officer Shinners’ mom also offered her thanks, found below.

Statement from Kathy Shinners:
As a family we are devastated and heartbroken over the tragic loss of Joe (Officer Shinners).
The boundaries of his heart were almost limitless!
It is impossible to thank each of you individually. We as a family and I as a mother wish we could.
Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for the kind words support and generosity that was shown this weekend as we are raising the funds for the family and officers of Provo Police Department to
travel to Washington DC to add Joe’s name to the memorial wall  Our hearts will be forever broken but we will honor his memory. We will never forget his sacrifice.
Thank you again for your kindness and generosity.
Kathy Shinners
Mom of Joe