The Red Dirt Community Comes to the Aid of the Tornado Victims
Kelly Dearmore Kylie Rae Harris
On Wednesday night, 16 tornadoes devastated much of Cleburne and Granbury, south of Fort Worth, leaving six people dead and millions of dollars worth of damage to the two normally sleepy towns. As Wednesday night rolled into Thursday morning, it took but only a few text messages between a couple of guys that care enough to put their impressive contacts-lists to good use to assist those who were suddenly in-need of extreme assistance.
As he listened to the news of the storms, Tony Avezzano, the owner of Coach Joe's Hat Tricks in Lewisville, where the popular, syndicated and locally-based Texas Country radio show, Texas Red Dirt Roads will be broadcast from over the next few weeks, immediately thought of his friend and Texas Country artist Steve Helms and his family, who live in Cleburne.
After texting Helms to make sure all was well with him, at least, Avezzano reached out to Justin Frazell, the host of Texas Red Dirt Roads and morning DJ on 95.9 The Ranch to come up with a plan to make this past Sunday's broadcast into one that would help the folks of Granbury and Cleburne.
Such altruistic endeavors aren't new concepts to either Avezzanno or Frazell, as both have helped raise immense amounts of money for various charities through events they've hosted in the past, including Avezzano's Coach Joe Memorial Golf Tournament, benefitting the Troy Aikman Foundation and Frazell's March of Dimes-benefitting Putting for Preemies golf and music event.
Mike Ryan and April Rankin
After the texting, phone calls and schedule-shuffling was complete, Sunday's Texas Red Dirt Roads line-up had gone from an already impressive bill made up of The Rankin Twins, Mike Ryan and Phil Hamilton, into a full-day of over 20 singer-songwriters dedicating their time and talent to raise money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund. Of course, the Red Cross is still in Granbury and Cleburne helping many affected families figure out what to do next.
"When I realized that I had friends being affected by the storm," Avezzano said just before the first acts hit the stage on Sunday. "Helping make all of this happen was just the right thing to do. I texted Justin, and he was totally on-board. By the time I made my first phone call, I think he had ten artists lined-up."
Helms, who's seen regional chart success with songs such as "Nowhere But Texas" is not only a current resident of Cleburne, but he's a proud, born and bred-native of the hometown he shares with Texas Country giant Randy Rogers.
"I'm close with many people that suffered real damage to their property," Helms explained before his acoustic performance. "Several of my friend's houses, and my sister's house, took serious hits. I've been helping my sister out with her house this weekend, and it still isn't done."