Oklahoma Concert To Benefit Twister Victims

Country music star and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton will be among the headlining acts for a concert tonight that will benefit the victims of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Okla., last week. All proceeds from the concert will go to the United Way of Central Oklahoma (UWCO) to fund immediate, intermediate and long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The concert, “Healing in the Heartland,” will air on NBC tonight at 9 p.m. (EST) and on cable networks Style, G4, Bravo, E!, and CMT on either a live or delayed basis. In addition to Shelton, Grammy Award-winning artists Usher, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and others will perform at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. According to UWCO, tickets for the show sold out in less than five minutes after going on sale May 25.

Tickets were priced at $25 and the arena holds 18,203.

Debby Hampton, president and CEO of UWCO, said that she wasn’t surprised at how quickly the tickets sold out. “When you have someone like Blake Shelton, who is very popular in Oklahoma, asking people to give, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.”

Shelton has previously performed in support of tornado victims for the state back in 2011, when he helped host the “Tornado Relief Concerts” for those affected by the Atoka County tornadoes. The two-sold out concerts, which featured special guests and over two hours of entertainment, raised $500,000 for the Oklahoma victims.

“Everyone has their way to help, and mine as an entertainer is to perform to help raise money and awareness for this tragedy,” Shelton said in a statement. “This is why I want to do this special and especially hold it in Oklahoma City, which is near ground zero.”

UWCO was selected to be the beneficiary of the concert’s funds because of a desire to see the relief money stay in the local community. The money will go directly to the organization’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund. According to Hampton, the organization has raised $3 million as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

Hampton estimated that the majority of funds will be used to fund long-term projects, simply because many people don’t know exactly what they need yet. There are still people missing and damage estimates are on-going, so it could be a while until the true cost of the storm is known.

UWCO doesn’t have a specific goal in mind in terms of the amount of money it is hoping to raise from the concert, but Hampton said she has been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of not just Oklahomans, but people across the globe. “Oklahoma has always been a generous state, but this has shown us that the generosity is worldwide,” said Hampton.

Besides the tangible benefits of “Healing in the Heartland,” Hampton said that the concert will bring another benefit to the people of Oklahoma: A sense of normalcy. “Something like this concert will help bring things back to the way they were before the storm,” she said.

The tornado that struck Moore was one of the worst in the city’s history. The two-mile wide killed a reported 24 people and destroyed an elementary school and a hospital. Moore is a suburb of Oklahoma City located about 10 miles south of the city, with a population of about 55,000.