Dallas Strong Music Festival Commemorating 5 Fallen Police Officers Announced for Cotton Bowl

Nancy Coblenz
Zak Chaouki, the creator of the Dallas Strong Music Festival giving a speech during the tribute ceremony remembering the five police officers lost on 7/7/16.

The event was organized by 19-year-old entrepreneur from Wisconsin.

A 19-year-old entrepreneur from La Crosse, Wisconsin, is planning a huge tribute concert at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to honor the lives of five law enforcement officials who were killed in an ambush on July 7, 2016.

"A year ago today, five brave police officers were stolen from their families, for no justifiable reason," Zak Chaouki said during an event in Dallas last week marking the one-year anniversary of the attack. "I sat on my couch in Wisconsin, in absolute disbelief that I was witnessing such senseless violence becoming a devastating reality. These officers, not a part of any controversy or conflict, were simply protecting one of the nation’s many beautiful cities."

To honor the victims, Chaouki is launching the Dallas Strong Music Festival, May 25-27 2018 at the 95,000-capacity stadium near the Dallas Fair Park. The artist lineup has not yet been announced, but Chaouki said participating artists will include a mix of pop, hip-hop, rock and country. Two-thirds of the proceeds from the concert will go to charity, including Angels of America’s Fallen, which helps the children of military personnel and first responders who have passed away.

The first-year event will honor DPD Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, DPD Officer Michael Krol, DPD Sgt. Michael Smith, DPD Officer Patricio Zamarripa and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson, all killed in an ambush by Micah Xavier Johnson in what was the deadliest attack on law enforcement since Sept. 11. Johnson was killed during the early hours of July 8 using a remote-controlled bomb.

"We are supposed to treat each other with kindness and respect; not hostility and hate," Chaouki said in a speech announcing the concert. "We will never be able to eradicate all hatred from the world, but no one can stop us from coming together and advocating for peace and love."

The Dallas Strong Music Festival is being developed by Pacific Event Group, an LLC Chaouki created for this and future charity concerts, saying he hopes that Dallas Strong turns into an annual event. 

"The festival will be centered around the Dallas police shooting, with the proceeds supporting Gold-Star families and a broad spectrum of charity organizations across the nation," he explains. "Our mission is to spread love and kindness in the face of adversity while bringing Dallas and the nation together as one." 

Chaouki has participated in a number of community service projects including coordinating the largest single-day food drive in Wisconsin history. At the end of his senior year of high school, one of his classmates was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Chaouki used his graduation fund to book a venue in La Crosse and hold a charity concert that raised $10,000 in one night. 

Zak credits his drive to a severe brain injury he suffered playing baseball at the beginning of his sophomore year that caused him to miss nearly two years of school.

"Getting back to school full time my senior year,” he says, “I realized how much I had missed just sitting around at home recovering. I was motivated to become involved in a lot of activities to make up for lost time. I’m really excited that all of that has led me now to working hard every day to make sure that the Dallas Strong Music Festival is a special event that will touch and inspire so many people’s lives. I love being part of creating a network of dedicated people and making new friends who share my vision and can help me reach my goals.”   

Early bird tickets go on sale Wednesday via Kickstarter. To learn more, visit dallasstrongfest.com