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EUGENE, Ore. -- In just a week and a half, country music singer Collin Raye is coming to Eugene to help a local Relay For Life team by performing an acoustic benefit concert at the Hult Center, raising money for two charities.
The inspiration behind the concert came from Tawnee Brunson’s husband, Thomas, who lost a battle to cancer three years ago. When Tawnee asked her friend Collin Raye to help keep her husband's legacy alive, he didn't hesitate in playing a benefit concert in his honor.
Life for the Brunson’s changed unexpectedly when he found out he had a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The diagnosis came just before they found Tawnee was pregnant with their third child, a daughter.
Thomas attended his last Relay For Life event in 2009, when Tawnee said the family truly feeling the full weight of their fight.
"Everybody knows someone who's been touched in some way by cancer, whether they've lost somebody or they know somebody who's fighting or who's hopeful won the battle with cancer,” Tawnee Brunson said. “But until you're in the middle of it and you've had someone so close to you and has been diagnosed, I don't think you can grasp the impact."
Thomas passed away nearly two years to the day of his diagnosis.
For 18 years, Jackson’s Auto Care shop was a second home to Thomas. Tawnee promised her husband she would learn to run the business and continue the work he loved.
“I can't tell you how many times I’d been down here at the shop until two in the morning… If he had to do it personally, he was willing to jump up and do that just to get someone going,” said Brunson. “I'd never worked here in any official capacity so it was just kind of thrown into the deep end learn as you go. Thankfully, I had a really great staff.”
“I don't think I'll ever be able to do anything close to filling his shoes, but trying to help folks out by doing something that might be meaningful,” said Brunson.
That's when Raye stepped in to help raise money for Tawnee's Relay For Life team.
The acoustic concert is scheduled to take place inside the Soreng Theater at the Hult Center on Sunday, June 1. Tickets are $30 and you can get them online or by calling the Hult Center Box Office at 541-682-5000.
The money raised will be split between the American Cancer Society and the Hailey Bell Blessed Chair Foundation, a charity Collin Raye started after his granddaughter passed away from an undiagnosed neurological disease. The Blessed Chair Foundation provides state of the art wheelchairs to people with neurological disabilities.