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SA turns out for One America Appeal; Lady Gaga, Lyle Lovett rock presidential concert

All 5 former living presidents host hurricane benefit concert


COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In the midst of a record hurricane season, which saw 10 consecutive hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean and chaos in American politics that has been just as unprecedented, the American spirit and ingenuity was on full display in College Station, Texas, on Saturday night as politics were pushed aside for a night of fun and music to help the millions of people impacted by the massive storms.

All five living former U.S. presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- came together to host a benefit concert at Reed Arena on the Texas A&M campus.

Three hours from the Alamo City, several people made the drive to A&M for the One America Appeal concert.

“It is the event of a lifetime,” said Catherine Drouillrd, of Garden Ridge. She made the drive with her friend who lives east of Houston and was impacted when Harvey dropped more than five feet of rain in the span of a few days.

Others from the San Antonio area also made the drive, including one couple who owns a home in Bulverde but spends part of their time in Houston.

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“We thought it was a great cause to come out (and) also an opportunity to see our presidents,” Stephen Vreeke said.

Vreeke bought the tickets as a birthday gift for his wife. With a capacity of about 10,000 people, most of the seats filled well before the show began. As people waited to be cleared by Secret Service agents they praised the presidents for coming together to help their fellow Americans -- continuing to serve though their time serving in the White House had come to an end. 

Catherine Drouillrd, US Army vet from Garden Ridge, shares why tonight's concert is so important to her. #KSATnews #DeepInTheHeart pic.twitter.com/8GnnqufbKR

— Chris Shadrock (@ChrisShadrock) October 21, 2017

Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young said he hoped the concert would raise “many, many millions.” A finally tally will be announced in the days to come, but organizers annoucned that at mroe than $31 million had already been raised.

He also spoke of how the event perfectly highlighted the mission of both the university and the presidents. “We are, at our core all about service, all about helping others,” Young said. “That is a central value here at this university and to have these five former presidents here to help us extend our reach, in terms of service, and we hope help them extend their reach ... we know how committed all five of them are to helping the victims.”

A sentiment shared by Jessica Navarro.

She also made the drive from San Antonio and said, "I think it is awesome that our (former) presidents and our military, special forces, anybody comes together to help anybody in need."

It’s been almost two months since Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Coastal Bend.

With winds of 130 mph the storm raked the waterfront and slowly moved inland, dumping more than five feet of rain in communities east of Houston and causing catastrophic damage in the Bayou City.

Harvey was the first Category 4 storm to strike the Lone Star State since 1961.

The presidents formed One Appeal America soon after the storm hit.

Days later, Irma first impacted Puerto Rico and then made landfall in Florida. Less than two weeks later, Irma devastated the U.S. island territory.

The relief effort now raises money to help everyone impacted by the hurricanes.

Saturday’s concert was filled big names, many with ties to Texas. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen attended A&M around the same time and Gospel musician Yolanda Adams, of Houston, helped headline the concert. Lady Gaga surprised fans hours before the show began when she came out for a sound check.

Though the damage the hurricanes left behind has left scars that will last for decades to come.

“It was amazing to see the initial response,” Vreeke said. “There are people who lost their homes and are rebuilding. Any help we can provide is well needed.”

And for a few hours, applause, smiles and music allowed people to enjoy the simpler things in life, while helping and truly showing the impact a call for help can provide when we are One America.

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