With a record breaking sold-out crowd, the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert raised the spirits of more than 60,000 fans and in total raised approximately $2 million, with donations still being tallied, that will be donated directly to tornado relief through the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund. This money will go to local recovery efforts in the wake of a series of devastating tornadoes that hit the area in May 2013.
The star studded line up for the eight-hour concert event that took place on July 6 in Norman, Oklahoma included Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Dunn, Mel Tillis, John Anderson, Krystal Keith, Kellie Coffey, Wade Hayes and Carrie Underwood (via Satellite from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville). Television personality Storme Warren emceed the day. Also on hand to help introduce artists were Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer, current University of Oklahoma football head coach Bob Stoops and University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. Capping the Independence Day week, the night ended with a spectacular 10-minute fireworks display.
Held at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the event marked the largest number of paid attendees for a concert in the stadium’s history. Many of those attending were directly effected by the multiple tornadoes that hit the state in May including the deadly twisters that touched down in Shawnee, El Reno and the EF5 tornado that destroyed much of Moore, which proudly touts itself as the home of Toby Keith (as proclaimed on a water tower that survived the storm).
Keeping the meaning of the day in focus, the artists continued to emphasize the message of community and strength in interviews backstage, with Keith quoted as saying, “Everybody’s here for the right reasons, and it’s gonna be a big show for Oklahoma…and it’s gonna take care of some people for a long time.” Brooks added, “Everyone outside of Oklahoma, I’d like them to know that this is where resilience lives.”
Ford Trucks, Verizon Wireless, Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives, and Walmart came on board as sponsors. In addition to these sponsors, more sponsorship donations, underwriting of the concert and donated services from suppliers and vendors from all over the country allowed the net proceeds of tickets (after tax and credit card fees) to benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
Donations are still being accepted online via the United Way home page at www.unitedwayokc.org. To give by credit card, call 405-523-3598, 405-523-3597, or the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s main number: 405-236-8441. Checks may be mailed to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101 with notation for May Tornadoes Relief.
Verizon Wireless also offered text-to-donate capability before, during and after the benefit concert. Customers of any wireless carrier donated by texting the keyword REBUILD to 52000, giving an automatic $10 donation to the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund. Verizon Wireless customers were limited to five text donations.