‘Our’ Home’s in Alabama: Benefit concert raises over $1 million for JSU

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Randy Owen salutes the crowd during the Alabama & Friends Benefit Concert for JSU. (Taylor Mitchell/The Chanticleer)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

Wednesday’s Alabama & Friends Disaster Relief Benefit Concert for JSU raised over $1.2 million dollars for the tornado relief of Jacksonville State University.

Thousands of country music fans and members of the JSU community braved a dreary, wet afternoon to contribute to the cause and listen to some of their favorite bands. Due to ticket sales and a “sizable” donation from band Lynyrd Skynyrd, JSU President Dr. John Beehler was presented with a check for $1,280,000 at the end of the event by members of Alabama Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry.

According to Owen, a JSU alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees, the Country Music Hall of Famers began planning the concert as soon as they heard about the tornadoes that ravaged Jacksonville on March 19.

“This is an idea we started the day after the tornado.” Owen said. “The devastation here the day or two after this happened is beyond anything that you can talk about, unless you saw the film of it, unless you were here personally.”

Owen says the group was galvanized into action because of their connections to JSU.

“The University is a special place for me, and a special place for Jeff and Teddy,” Owen said. “This is my university, and it’s very much a part of me. It’s a very emotional thing for me.”

For Jacksonville native and former JSU quarterback Riley Green, the devastation was personal as well.

“I was in Nashville the night that it happened,” explained Green. “I saw the footage on TV, but I pulled into town the next morning, and it hit me that it didn’t do it justice. Jacksonville will never look the same.”

Green, a budding country music artist, organized a benefit concert of his own in March, but was happy to join in again to help his home.

“If I can come play a guitar and help in any way shape or form heal the damage from this storm, that’s pretty easy on me.”

Owen says the concert is just the beginning for the recovery of Jacksonville.

“There is so much more to be done, and we’re just getting started. I hope we continue the awareness of what we are trying to do. This concert is a way to say thank you, and bring the spirits up at this university and this community.”

When asked what JSU students could take away from a group of alumni organizing such an event, Owen had one message:

“This is what you do, you go out and give back.”

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