Country music singer Ty Herndon of Decatur will perform at a benefit concert for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Limestone County on May 12.
Country music singer, local Boys & Girls Club journey through tragedies to find victories
By Holly Hollman
To look at the background of one country music singer and a local Boys and Girls Club is to find similarities in their struggles and victories.
The singer, Ty Herndon, at age 6, fled from church in tears after succumbing to a bout of stage fright. He went on to become a male vocalist winner on “Star Search” and landed spots on various cable variety shows, only to have one record executive tell him, “Son, you go back to Alabama, get on your little red tractor and stay there.”
Herndon, who attended school at Austin High in Decatur, didn’t listen to that executive. Instead, he played the honky-tonk circuit in Texas, and went on to have two gold records in 1995 and 1996.
In 1995, Herndon also nabbed the Best New Artist Award at the Country Radio Music Awards.
That summer, Herndon went through rehab in Arizona for drugs and alcohol abuse.
“They go hand in glove,” Herndon said. “You don’t abuse one without the other. There is a history of addiction in my family, and my hope is that it ends with me.”
Just like Herndon, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Limestone County has grappled with success and tragedies.
The club had humble beginnings in 1994 in a rented space at Athens Elementary’s gym. The group kept renting space to offer children a place to find recreation and mentors until it got a permanent home on Washington Street in 1998.
Prosperity descended. In 1999, an Ardmore facility opened. Three years later the Teen Center opened at the Athens Parks and Recreation Center. The Tanner club went from a church gym to a renovated elementary school in 2003.
Tragedy followed prosperity’s footsteps. In December 2006, Tank Beavers, one of the club’s first members and a three-time winner of its Youth of the Year award, died after a man shot and killed him at T.G.I. Friday’s in Huntsville. The former Athens High basketball star was 21 years old. Beavers’ cousin, Thurston Turner, also shot at the restaurant, died nine days later.
At a January prayer vigil at the club, about 100 mourners shared their grief and memories.
“Dealing with the loss of Tank Beavers has been tremendous for all of us that knew
him,” said Jim Cooper, president of the club’s board of directors. “Tank grew up in the club and exemplified everything that the Boys and Girls Clubs are about. He was a true success story and was loved by all of us as we watched him grow into a model for other children and young adults.”
Country music singer Ty Herndon will perform past hits as well as songs from his new CD, “Right About Now,” pictured above, at the Boys and Girls Club benefit concert.
Neither Herndon nor club members have let tragedy linger in their hearts.
Herndon’s wake-up call came from his sister, who told him she was pregnant with his nephew.
“This was someone who was going to need me,” Herndon said. “My goal became to live past 44, and I’m 44 now.”
Herndon has been sober three years, the same number of years he has been an uncle to his nephew in Nashville.
“I see him on a daily basis,” Herndon said. “We watch movies and Sesame Street. We color and build trains. I can’t imagine a child who doesn’t have that. I know there are children who don’t, and it shouldn’t be that way.”
Knowing there are children who need such support motivates the Boys and Girls Club to keep going. Cooper said the local organization serves 1,200 children annually with programs such as anger management, community service, career development, nutrition, life skills, sports fitness, recreation, arts, and character and leadership development.
There also are anti-drug and anti-smoking programs.
“We’ve been in the kid business here since 1994,” Cooper said. “It is our mission to promote strong character for all youth, while motivating them to become good citizens and responsible leaders.”
Yet, financial needs are a constant concern. To keep the doors open, Cooper said, the group has done fundraisers ranging from selling dinners to selling apples.
That monetary need has brought Herndon and the organization together.
‘Support this cause’
Tickets will go on sale Friday for a benefit concert Herndon will perform for the Boys and Girls Club. Herndon has performed for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Special Olympics, but this is his first concert for a Boys and Girls Club.
“It takes a whole community to get behind something like this,” Herndon said. “Whether you like me or my music, you can support this cause, and I know you’ll get something out of it if you come.”
Cooper calls the event “an answered prayer.”
“This is not only the beginning of the club’s one big annual fundraiser, but also an annual event in which the whole community can look forward to and plan for each year,” Cooper said. “The success of the Ty Herndon Concert will significantly relieve the financial burden off of the clubs.”
Money raised from the concert will fund programs for children and potentially new facilities and expansion of existing facilities.
Herndon said he’ll perform past hits, as well as the songs on his latest album, “Right About Now”, released in January.
That album, he said, is a testament to his life, with songs that talk about living and loving again.
“This thing called life is not always easy,” Herndon said. “You have to overcome your shortcomings, those character defects. I love to sing about the journey, and I hope people can recognize I’ve lived the life I sing about.”
Ty Herndon at Boys and Girls Club
Where: Athens State University, on the field
When: May 12
Time: Gates open at 6 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket. No coolers allowed.
Cost: Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate or $18 when purchased at Railroad Bazaar and Preston’s Western Wear with valid student or military ID. Tickets also available through www.TicketWeb.com.
When to buy: Beginning Friday at 10 a.m.
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