Country music singer and Wilson County resident Tracy Lawrence was showered with well wishes, gifts and applause Tuesday night during the first Wilson County Humanitarian Award Gala.
But the real winners may prove to be of the four-legged variety as the event doubled as a benefit for Wilson County’s New Leash on Life animal shelter.
According to event chairperson Denise Moore, tickets to the gala sold out in two weeks and featured many vying for both silent and live auction items to benefit the no-kill shelter.
But Moore said the day belonged to Lawrence.
“The reason we are honoring Tracy is because of his humanitarian efforts in Wilson County and surrounding areas,” Moore said.
Not just those representing New Leash on Life, but other organizations’ representatives were on hand to say thanks to Lawrence for his philanthropic efforts.
“He wants to fry turkeys,” said Lee Ann Ditchel with Music with a Mission, an event that feeds the hungry each year at Thanksgiving for the Nashville Rescue Mission. “I don’t care if it’s freezing, snowing or raining; he’s out there.”
Ditchel said Lawrence was responsible for serving 75,000 meals to the hungry as she presented Lawrence with a guitar and plaque.
“If we could give just a little back, it means so much,” Lawrence said.
Patty Harman with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fight cancer said about 5,000 free mammograms donated by Susan G. Komen will be available to Wilson County women this year.
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto each proclaimed Tuesday Tracy Lawrence Day in their respective areas and presented Lawrence with proclamations signifying the act.
Amy Haverstick with New Leash on Life also showed the organization’s thanks with a guitar and crystal award.
“He did something for us and didn’t even know it,” said Moore. “He did a good thing.”
Moore then announced the shelter plans to build a new facility in the future, but asked for Wilson County residents’ help in making the plan a reality.
“It’s never over because we can’t stop what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said.
Lawrence said he’d like to see the gala become an annual event and pledged his support.
“I’m very humbled,” he said. “They really didn’t tell me all this was going to happen, but it did. I’m proud I chose this area 23 years ago and call it my home.”
Radio personality Storme Warren served as emcee with entertainment from songwriter Casey Beathard, who sang his song, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” later recorded by Lawrence. Henry Paul with Blackhawk rounded out entertainment for the evening.
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