Kenny Rogers Benefit Concert in Pensacola

By: Pensacola News Journal
By: Pensacola News Journal

Kenny Rogers did more than "hold 'em" and "fold 'em" at a benefit concert to help victims of Hurricane Ivan.

The singer, who is famous for "The Gambler" and dozens of other country, pop, rock and soul hits, reached into his pocket and forked over $1,500 in addition to donating his time and talent Sunday night.

Whenever Lewis Bear, a Pensacola beverage distributor sitting in the front row, raised his hand to show he recognized one of the songs, Rogers dropped him a $100 bill.

Bear promptly handed each one over to Dick Appleyard, a founder of Rebuild Northwest Florida, which is using the cash to help repair and rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by the September storm, one of four hurricanes that struck Florida last year. It caused billions of dollars in damages

"We've been through so much," said Gayle Dykes, 55, temporarily living in a trailer after losing her home to Ivan in nearby Pace. "This is a good diversion."

Rogers, 66, appeared before about 4,500 fans at the Pensacola Civic Center at the behest of his former producer, Pensacola native Larry Butler.

"I called him up and said `Would you consider doing a concert for my hometown? We're hurting,' "Butler recalled, "and he said, `Why, of course.' "

Butler also has arranged for Willie Nelson to stage a similar benefit next month and promised more entertainment help is on the way.


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