Long performed a concert Saturday night at Hopkinsville’s James E. Bruce Convention Center to raise money for his organization. Back to Back volunteer Julie Gilkey said there had originally been 1,000 seats for sale at $10 a head, but that an extra 300 seats had been donated, so the audience totaled almost 1,300. She that the first benefit concert had been in June 2006 and that it had raised a total of about $12,000. This amount included revenue from items such as guitars and other country music memorabilia, some of it signed by well-known artists, that were sold in a silent auction.
Long said that he has bought gifts for close to 15 families in the last two years and that he hopes for Back to Back to keep growing. This year’s concert was bigger than the previous one and had quite a few more sponsors, he said. Before the show began at 7 p.m., Long held a special dinner in a room to the side of the stage in which he thanked all these sponsors, right down to the company that printed the tickets, and presented them with awards of recognition.
Long said that he had been inspired start Back to Back in part because of country star Tim McGraw’s charity, Neighbor’s Keepers. Growing up in the Methodist church, Long was also heavily influenced by the Kentucky United Methodist Children’s Home. In the past, he has helped raise money for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and other worthy groups, but he said he wanted to do something special to “give back” to the community where he grew up. He said he decided to expand to Trigg County partly because he had always had support from a local radio station. Another reason he wanted to add this area was that he wanted to show that Back to Back was already expanding. This year’s sponsors included Cadiz businesses such as Seasons by the Lake and Hancock’s Neighborhood Market.
Long said that he hoped Back to Back would one day be able to provide help at other times of the year because tragedy can strike at any time, but for now he will still focus on making Christmas happier. He said that when families have financial difficulties, parents will often implore their children to wait until Christmas for various requests. Families can have problems any time, but Christmastime acts as a reminder for where families stand, Long said.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.