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Van Zant Helps Make Timmy and Hannah Benefit a Huge Success

by Darlene Stevens

The families of Timmy Mooring and Hannah Roddy would like to thank everyone for their support during their time of need. Timmy, who was burned over 50% of his body in a debris fire at his home on August 9th 2008 and stayed almost three months recovering in the hospital made it home in time for this event. Hannah, who was born July 22nd, 2008 with multiple life threatening birth defects is still fighting for her life in Chapel Hill Children’s Hospital
There was a chill in the air at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, N.C. November 1, 2008.  However, big, bright, blue skies prevailed as we arrived at the Timmy and Hannah Benefit.

There, guys and gals dressed in leather and denim were all getting geared up for one of the biggest poker runs Lenoir County has ever seen. Heading up the run was the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club. There were several different kinds of bikes from Harleys to  Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis, and any bike you can imagine. Steve “Trauma” Johnson, a member of the Ghost Riders M/C who led out the bikes for the run said “The poker run went off without a hitch and we all returned safely.”

At 11:00 the roar from almost 275 bikes could be heard as they cranked up and rolled away to begin their trek through all the fire districts in the county. 

 At Deep Run VFD, the bikes filled the parking lot where there was a moment of silence for a fallen firefighter Adam “Cadillac” Howard who died in September in a parachuting accident. The poker run ended up back at Grainger Stadium where there was a silent auction going on that included many musical instruments such as two fender electric guitars. One was autographed by Shenandoah and Ghost Riders, another autographed by SwampDaWamp. Tuesday’s Gone along with Red Phish Music donated a Yamaha guitar. Assembly Required also donated a drum head autographed by the band. The big item was a fiddle autographed by none other than Charlie Daniels. The auction ended at 6pm and made about $2,000.00.

Several days prior to the event Ryan King, the singer for the band Tuesday’s Gone, e-mailed me and wanted to do something special for Timmy. This past May, Ryan had suffered a house fire and lost most everything he had other than his beloved Ronnie Van Zant look alike “High Roller” hat that he wore on stage for years. In honor of all Volunteer Firefighters, Ryan wanted to give Timmy his hat. Ryan went on to say that he had a dream. He said his hat survived a fire and Timmy survived a fire and he felt the two were destined to be together. He needed to pass his hat on to honor Timmy for his years of fire service.

I knew there were some more surprises coming up for Timmy, and the family of 3-month-old Hannah Roddy who is fighting for her life in Chapel Hill, N.C. at UNC hospital (from multiple birth defects). I was expecting a call from Lori Emory who is Jimmie Van Zant’s PR manager. She called me prior to Alter Ego taking the stage and said she was on the way. When she arrived I was totally surprised to see Jimmie’s wife Zee Van Zant step out of the car. I hugged her neck then she turned me around and then Jimmie stepped out.
 It was amazing that he took his time to actually come to our little event. That was magical. I ushered Jimmie, Zee, and friends into an office so he could surprise the rest of the folks there. Even though word spread fast that he was there…I had to do some rescheduling to keep it a secret that he was there to give a surprise to the families I guess it is hard for people involved to keep something that big a secret.  The band Alter Ego took to the stage at 3:30pm and rocked the house with a 45 minute set. The crowd really started to get into them and responded really well.

Between the bands door prizes were given away by Cindy Miller and Shank from WSFL. They then introduced another local band called Southern Touch. These boys laid down some of the best of the best southern rock cover tunes from Marshall Tucker to The Allman Brothers. The silent auction ended at 6pm as Southern Touch left the stage and WSFL’s Cindy and Shank announced the winners. 

Afterwards another local band called Assembly Required took the stage to rock the house with some of their original tunes mixed with some progressive and rock southern rock. All three bands were so gracious, each giving the families their time and talent for the cause. They all presold tickets before the event and promoted the concert at the venues they played for the past month. The families expressed to me how appreciative they were to everyone who come out for them.

Our headliner band was from Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday’s Gone, “a Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Band” took center stage. That’s when the crowd came down from the grandstands to fill the infield in front of the stage. That was also the cue for Jimmie Van Zant to come out of hiding and go backstage. The band took a brief pause to bring Mr. Timmy Mooring (the burned firefighter up on stage to announce that Ryan had a gift for him. Ryan then presented his hat to Timmy. 

Then they dedicated a song that the band has never done in front of a audience before. They sang “Red White and Blue.” I could not hold back any further. After the song was over I went up on stage and told the crowd that I had to interrupt the concert to bring out a special guest. 

I introduced Lori Emory (Jimmie’s PR Manager) and she took over the microphone and welcomed him to the stage. Jimmie walked out with his wife and another guest named Hailey. The two girls were holding gifts. Jimmie shook everyone’s had on stage and told Ryan how proud he was that he was keeping the Van Zant’s name sake going and that some things are worth passing along. Then he presented Ryan an autographed picture and his white “Texas Hatter High Roller Hat” Jimmie had worn around the world.
Then Jimmie had the families come up on stage where he presented them with autographed pictures, back stage passes, and t-shirts. During this time the crowd was stunned by what they just witnessed. It was such a touching moment. Tuesday’s Gone and Jimmie Van Zant then sang “Simple Man”  and the crowd went wild. It was such a special time. After the song Jimmie stayed back stage to sign autographs for the events volunteers. Jimmie then asked me if I could ask Ryan if they could sing another song.
 Ryan asked if he could sing “Tuesday’s Gone” or “All I Can Do Is Write About It In a Song” Jimmie did not hesitate. He said that his all time favorite Skynyrd song was “All I Can Do Is Write About It In A Song”
Ryan introduced Jimmie again and Ryan picked up his acoustic guitar and started to play while Jimmie sang. I have never heard such a beautiful rendition of this song. It was so heart felt.  After the concert was over Jimmie came out again for a meet and greet with Tuesday’s Gone and they signed autographs and took pictures for donations.

I want to thank Jimmie and Zee Van Zant and also Lori Emory, Brian and Lorie Voga for their contribution to help Jimmie make it to the show. I know this day will live on in my heart forever, loud and proud. The committee for the benefit were all wonderful every volunteer and everyone on the committee paid to get into the event. Even Jimmie, Zee, Lori and Hailey paid to get into the concert. Tuesday’s Gone refused to be paid for their set.  Everyone wanted to help out. The spirit of the people there was sure showing the love present that day.

There are so many folks to thank for helping us put this wonderful event on. Please visit www.timmyandhannah.com and visit the sponsor’s page. Also donations for the families are still being accepted on the Timmy and Hannah website. All my love and prayers for Hannah……Come home soon little one…...  please keep Hannah Roddy in your prayers.

Tuesdays Gone playing with Jimmie Van Zant

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