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May 17, 2012

A night of thanks: Lady Antebellum event raises $285,000 for Henryville

LOUISVILLE — Though they got a private show from a nationally recognized musical group, a private party completely catered and their own cake from Buddy Valastro of The Learning Channel’s “Cake Boss,” they never lost sight of the gratitude they had for everything coming their way.

Henryville High School juniors and seniors finished out their senior year with a party featuring Lady Antebellum on Wednesday night. The charity ball held by the band following the festivities raised $285,000 to help rebuild Henryville.

Through all of that, they continued to show their gratitude.

“We just feel so small and thought we wouldn’t get noticed by anyone,” Chelsea LaMotte, junior, said. “Then all of a sudden we’ve got Lady A here.”

The high school won the band’s “Own the Prom Night” contest through a video submission by Silver Creek High School. Students had to send in a video to explain why they thought they deserved to have the band play at their school, but Silver Creek and other schools withdrew their entries and instead nominated Henryville after the school was torn apart by a tornado March 2.

The band raised $235,000, including a private donation from its members. Lipton, a beverage manufacturer, added $50,000 to bring the total up to $285,000.

During a press conference before the show for the students, one of the group’s singers, Charles Kelley, said he hopes the concert and charity ball won’t be the end of the support from his group.

“We’re just kind of getting started. It’s going to be a long-term thing, so we’ll see,” Kelley said. “Only time will tell. I’m sure we’ll kind of stay involved in it and as long as there’s a need.”

Hillary Scott, another singer for the band, said the ability to help a community was one of the most memorable and important moments of her career.

“I think these moments are the most rewarding opportunities we’ve ever been given,” Scott said. “Of all the things I’ll tell my children and grandchildren about my career, this is going to go down in the history books for me.”

Drew Bottorff, a senior at the high school, said her family lost a house they owned in the storms on March 2.

To see a famous music group perform for her school and give to her community, she said, was heartwarming.

“I think it makes you very grateful that they’re not the kind of people to take all the money for themselves, but give it to a community that needs it,” Bottorff said. “It’s pretty exciting, it’s something no other class has ever been able to do.”

Troy Albert, the high school’s principal, said his students have been energetic this week — partially because of the end of the school year and partially because of the show.

But to see them excited at all meant a lot to him, he said.

“To me, this is the greatest thing,” Albert said. “Whether we were at Henryville or at Scottsburg, this is how excited they would be. This is just sort of a celebration to break up the week.”

But Glenn Riggs, the principal of the elementary school, also came to the party before the show.

He said many of the students in the high school were also elementary students at Henryville and he wanted to see it all come full circle for them.

“They were all my students at one point, too,” Riggs said. “It’s exciting for me to see this exit for them. This is a part of their lives and I wanted to be here to see it.”

Shane Jones, a senior at the high school, said the outpouring of support from everywhere has astonished him.

“We’ve had crazy support from everyone, it’s ridiculous,” Jones said. “We’ve all been looking forward to [the show], it’s just been the buzz all around the school, really.”

The outgoing and incoming Henryville seniors got a show that some of them said they never would have expected. Kelley said he was glad to make them happy through the difficulties they’ve experienced since March.

“If we can put some smiles on people’s faces and raise a little money, that’s the goal,” Kelley said. “There’s already been so much done before we even got here. We just kind of want to do our part.”

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Aikas Speed, 12, Charlestown, takes a photo of a bloody handprint on the countertop while Detective Donnie Bowyer watches over during a mock crime scene investigation at the Charlestown Public Library Wednesday.

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