As Diana Kight made her way inside James Brown Arena on Tuesday evening, the Evans resident raised both arms and quietly said “finally.”
After waiting two years to see her favorite country group, it was the least she could do.
“I can’t believe I’m finally getting to see Lady Antebellum in person,” the 17-year-old Lakeside High School student said. “They’ve been my favorite band since I was 15.”
For the first time since 2012, the three-member band returned to Augusta, performing in front of a near capacity crowd.
Because of threatening weather, the group was forced to move Tuesday’s concert from their namesake venue in Evans to downtown Augusta.
Concert proceeds benefited the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta.
“Over the past year, the Ronald McDonald House has really become our second family,” said Rachael Peeples, whose five-year-old daughter Haley is recovering from a brain tumor. “There’s no way we could have made it through without the loving and kindness from everyone at the Ronald McDonald House.”
Haley, who had a 13½ hour surgery March 18, was invited on stage during Tuesday’s performance.
“It’s such a special opportunity,” Rachael said. “This little girl has been through so much, and for her to be able to experience a moment like this means everything.”
Funds from the event contributed to Augusta’s $5.9 million capital campaign to build a larger Ronald McDonald House for families of pediatric patients on the campus of Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
The new home is projected to be 28,000 square feet with 23 bedrooms.
“I think it’s wonderful the way Lady Antebellum always gives back to charity,” area resident Stephanie Rose said. “Especially since it’s for such a great organization like the Ronald McDonald House. I work at Georgia Regents Medical Center so I get to see how wonderful it is for parents to get to be close to their children.”
For Hayley Reynolds, knowing the money was going to charity made purchasing tickets an easy decision.
“I would have been here no matter what, but the fact they’re playing for free just makes it even more special,” the Lakeside High School 11th-grader said. “This is my sixth time seeing Lady Antebellum play and I’ve loved every show. I’m the biggest Hillary Scott fan in the world.”
The platinum-selling band features two members from the Augusta area, 2000 Lakeside graduates Charles Kelley (lead vocals) and Dave Haywood (background vocals, guitar, piano and mandolin). Kelley and Haywood also graduated from the University of Georgia.
“Just to know I walk down the same high school halls as (Kelley and Haywood) is very inspiring,” Kight said. “I mean, they’re known around the world. They’re global superstars.”
Rose echoed Kight’s statement.
“You always want to see local guys make it big, but it’s even more meaningful when they don’t forget about where they came from. It means so much to know they care about our community.”