The entire event began with a text message from an inForney.com member about a local band offering to help raise money for the Forney tornado victims. It quickly grew into a benefit concert that was made possible because the owner of Forney Sports Center, Ramin Giliani, did not hesitate to offer his business as the concert venue, free of charge. Gilani said, “Whatever I can do to help is what I will do.”
The “free theme” continued as multiple businesses stepped forward to sponsor the fundraiser. InForney.com members came forward to pay for the few items needed at the concert that had been discounted but were not free. As a result, not one penny raised was needed to cover any costs. The amount raised from the benefit concert totaled nearly $9,000. There are more funds expected to come in this week. Raffle tickets were sold prior to the concert and at the event. More than 50 prizes were offered, including the grand prize, a brand new roof from Earnhardt Restoration and Roofing.
Mayor Darren Rozell spent hours at the event and spoke to the crowd about how proud he is to be a citizen of Forney. He said that the benefit concert that was put together quickly to assist our neighbors in need, was a perfect example of how the Forney community comes together to help each other. He related how many great words were spoken from members of the media about Forney during the aftermath of the EF-3 tornado that hit the town. The media, including FOX, CBS, ABC, CW33, and Univision again spoke highly of Forney as they covered the fundraising efforts on April 21.
Mike and Sherry Enochs also took to the stage to address the crowd. They thanked everyone for the love and support they have received and they thanked God for protecting Sherry Enochs, her grandson, and the two other children she held onto as the tornado ripped through their Diamond Creek house. The Enochs are staying with family members until their house can be rebuilt.
Many Forney tornado victims are still staying at the Best Western in Forney and are looking for local houses to rent while their homes are rebuilt. Finding temporary housing has proven to be very hard and frustrating for some families. Patrick and Monica McCrea own Doe Belly's Catfish Cafe on Broad Street in Forney. Their business just missed being hit by the downtown tornado, but their house in Diamond Creek was destroyed. They are thankful they and their two children are alive and well, but hotel life is not easy. They are looking for a house to rent for the next six months, until they can move back into their Diamond Creek neighborhood. The McCreas came out to the benefit concert to enjoy a few hours of fun on a beautiful, sunny day in Forney.
Six bands donated their time and musical talents to help raise funds at the concert. The bands came from all over East Texas because they cared for their Forney neighbors. Shaun Michaels, Kevin & Mary, Grant Wiscour and the Infidels, the J.C.F. Band, the Blues Healers, and Wasted Minds all took the stage to entertain the crowd and offer words of support to the tornado victims. Bethel Strong acted as the MC for the concert. Mr. Strong's family was touched by the tornado outbreak as well. His daughter's house in Royse City was also destroyed by a tornado on April 3, 2012.
Two Dallas Mavericks Dancers, Jenna and Savannah, came to the concert to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. A long line of eager concert goers happily waited to meet the dancers. The two young women also helped with announcing the raffle winners on stage. Rachel Mcadams White of Forney Uniform Supply designed a “Forney Strong” t-shirt that was unveiled and sold at the concert for $15. Her shop inside the Forney Sports Center will continue to sell the shirts with all profits going to help the Forney tornado victims.
Red silicon wristbands for “Forney Tornado Relief” were handed out to concert goers and sponsors. The remaining wristbands will be sold to raise additional funds for the Forney Disaster Relief Fund. The inForney.com organizers are contacting a local store to offer the wristbands for sale for $3 each. As soon as the wristbands are available, an announcement will be made on inForney.com and the Forney Tornado Relief Benefit Concert Facebook group page.
More than 1200 people showed up to enjoy the seven hour event and inForney.com owners Mathew and Taylor Richards were thrilled that nearly $9,000 was raised for the Forney Disaster Relief Fund. Mathew Richards said, “It took a lot of hard work by a lot of good people to make this event happen. I want to thank all of them, as well as the sponsors, raffle prize donators, and the people who showed up to the concert. This just showed once again why Forney is a strong community.” All baked goods, bottled water, and whole watermelons left over from the event, were taken to the Best Western hotel in Forney for the families who lost their homes.
Photos by: Big Shots Photography