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"I asked him if he was ready for any wild animal segments or fashion segments," jokes Guthrie

By Nick Maslow
May 22, 2019 04:39 PM
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Savannah Guthrie, Tom Hanks
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty; Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Savannah Guthrie and Tom Hanks are joining forces on Thursday, co-hosting a special 8 a.m. hour of Today that celebrates caregivers who look after America’s veterans.

It’s all part of their work with former Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s Hidden Heroes campaign, which “brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and seeks solutions for the tremendous challenges and long-term needs they face,” according to its website.

“I’m very excited,” Guthrie, an ambassador for the organization, tells PEOPLE about the special broadcast at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ahead of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

“Tom Hanks is just everything you hope he would be — you know, a huge a movie star, but so kind and humble and down-to-earth and kind and funny,” she adds. “I feel so grateful that our paths have crossed with this work with Hidden Heroes.”

The Oscar winner, 62, “didn’t hesitate for one second” when he was approached about teaming up with Guthrie, 47, on Today to shine a light on the caregivers and resources that Hidden Heroes offers.

“He was like, ‘Where, when? I’m there,’ ” says Guthrie, who has worked with Hidden Heroes for about six months. “And that’s how I think we all feel about this cause. Elizabeth Dole launched this a couple years ago, recognizing that our care for the caregivers is not where it should be, and that part of caring for our veterans is caring for those friends and family who are taking care of them every day. And she’s surrounding those caregivers with love, resources and support.”

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So far, Guthrie and Hanks have exchanged emails about their collaboration, “I asked him if he was ready for any wild animal segments or fashion segments,” jokes Guthrie.

Joining Hanks and Guthrie is Grammy winner Sheryl Crow, 57, who will blast her music from the speedway during a live performance for caregivers in attendance.

One of the people who will be singing along? Guthrie, who says she loves “all her hits,” especially Crow and Kid Rock’s 2002 duet “Picture.”

“I used to play the guitar and sing — that was my jam,” says Guthrie. “I loved to sing that song.”

Don’t count on Guthrie joining Crow for a duet, though: “I think I hung up my guitar,” she quips.

In between all the food and fun with Crow, Hanks and Al Roker (who will report live from the speedway), Guthrie hopes the special Today episode helps viewers learn more about the children, parents and spouses “who are doing the work every single day, behind the scenes, supporting veterans who come home with injuries, whether the injury is seen or unseen.”

savannah-guthrie
Savannah Guthrie
| Credit: GWU

“They don’t ask to be recognized,” Guthrie says of the caregiving heroes. “They don’t get a lot of support — material support or even emotional support. So if our show can do anything, I think it’s to open our country’s eyes to look around and say, ‘Hey, do I have one of those hidden heroes in my town, in my community, in my neighborhood?’ ”

Adds Guthrie: “The organization is called Hidden Heroes, but if we start doing our job right, they’re not gonna be hidden anymore.”