Tupelo man begins week’s stay on tower to benefit troops

n Scott Burns, “The DJ,” plans to raise $10,000 for Cell Phones for Soldiers.

BY ERIN KOURKOUNIS

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Scott Burns sits atop a 5-by-14-foot scaffolding tower. The 20-foot-tall tower is equipped with a television, a Playstation, disc jockey equipment and a Porta-John.

Burns climbed the tower, by the flagpole outside The Mall at Barnes Crossing, at 6 a.m. Friday. His feet won’t touch the ground until 6 p.m. Thursday, seven days and 168 hours of Mississippi heat later.

The 36-year-old Burns, also known as “The DJ,” is on a mission – to raise $10,000 for Cell Phones for Soldiers, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for U.S. troops to phone their loved ones from overseas.

Burns said that if his goal is reached by Sunday, he will extend his stay on the tower to July 6.

Robert Bergquist, Cell Phones for Soldiers president, said this is the first event for the organization to be held in Mississippi.

“It tells the story of the American public,” he said. “Regardless of whether they support the war or not, they support soldiers.”

Burns, owner of a Tupelo disc jockey business, is no rookie in the tower-climbing world.

He spent eight days on a tower for Lee County Families First three years ago. And he held several three-day fundraisers for area food pantries.

Americans take for granted the convenience of cell phones, said Burns, who was a Marine for four years, four days and 31-2 hours.

“We talk on our phones like it’s connected to our ear,” he said. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it wouldn’t be hard to run a $5,000 or $6,000 phone bill every month.”

Burns was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, where he got a firsthand taste of how expensive it is to make calls from abroad.

He returned home 13 years ago and now resides in Tupelo with his wife, Emily, and 9-year-old daughter Hannah.

Even though the public will be giving, they also will have the chance to receive prizes.

Vanelli’s and Papa John’s have both donated two large pizzas a day as giveaways. And Coca-Cola products will be handed out until supplies runs out. Doug Stewart, Vanelli’s event coordinator, said he hopes donations exceed Burns’ goal.

“Anything we can do to help raise as much money as we can get, that’s what we’re here for,” Stewart said.

Burns can use only those items and food donated to him throughout the week.

Contact Erin Kourkounis at (662) 678-1590 or erin.kourkounis@djournal.com.