Posted on Fri, Oct. 06, 2006
Alan Jackson helps Tennessee family devastated by tornado
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Alan Jackson loves tinkering with cars and boats and says he's even worked on a few houses in his time.
But when a tornado destroyed a Tennessee family's home and paralyzed a mother as she protected her children, the country singer picked up a guitar instead of a hammer.
"I'm a little rusty now. I thought I'd probably serve them better on the stage," Jackson said recently.
Jackson performed a private concert in August for the volunteers who helped the Hawkins family of Hendersonville, Tenn., rebuild their lives.
The taped concert will air 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," which focuses on the Hawkins' ordeal.
Last April, a tornado destroyed Jerrod and Amy Hawkins' house and almost took Amy's life. She saved her sons, 6-year-old Jair and 4-year-ol Cole, by lying on top of them in the basement, but was paralyzed by the falling debris. Her vertebrae and ribs were crushed, her lungs punctured, and she suffered serious head trauma.
Jerrod, a firefighter, was on duty at the time and could only watch the storm from the fire station. After Amy, 35, and the boys were pulled from a pile of rubble, he had to instruct his neighbors by phone how to give his own wife CPR.
Jackson, who learned about the family's plight from news reports, performed several songs for the army of volunteers who built the Hawkins a wheelchair-accessible home.
"There have been a lot of people and companies and so forth donating their time and money. This is the easy part for me to walk out there and sing. It doesn't take much effort on my part," Jackson said.
But the volunteers sure enjoyed it. Jackson and his band played hits such as "Where I Come From" and "Livin' On Love" and a stirring cover of the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road."
"The crowd was really nice and they had been working hard. I was glad to do it," he said afterward.
Jackson, a Georgia native who lives near Nashville, said he was touched by Amy Hawkins' actions to save her children and the devastation the tornado caused the family and the community.
"I've never been in the direct path of something that terrible. It's a scary thing," he said.
Besides Jackson, country singers Crystal Gale, Hank Williams Jr., Cowboy Troy and The Oak Ridge Boys send greetings to the Hawkins family during the show.