Luke Bryan played a stripped-down acoustic set in an intimate concert Wednesday night for about 200 guests at the Enterprise Mill.
The Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year donated his time and traveling expenses for the concert to support a joint venture between the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and the Family Y to renovate Camp Lakeside.
“He’s doing this for free. His expenses, his crew. We’re not paying him a dime,” said Kaci Johnson, who, along with her husband Duncan, co-organized the fundraiser and the renovation project.
Guests were invited to purchase tickets to the concert and were treated to an informal event that included Bryan sharing stories behind some of his music.
The money will go toward the $6 million renovation of Camp Lakeside to accommodate children who attend specialized camps through the children’s hospital. Camp Lakeside will remain open to the children it currently serves for most of the year, but for five weeks out of each year it will host the specialized camps, Johnson said.
Bryan said he gets a lot of requests for charities, and he and his wife, Caroline, discuss them to decide which they can give to.
He said performing for this fundraiser was a “no-brainer.”
“I’m so blessed in this business. You’ve got to give it back like it’s been given to you,” he said.
Currently children who attend Camp Rainbow, Camp Joint Venture, Camp Strong Heart, Camp Sweet Life and Camp Share and Care travel to facilities in Rutledge, Ga.
“It’s a fabulous facility that has served our needs for 25 years and continues to do so,” Johnson said. “The issue is that children’s summers are much shorter than they have been historically, and that is the closest pediatric facility to us. And it’s also the closest for Atlanta, which means we are competing.”
She said many local patients can’t attend camp for the full week because it is full. A second facility would give patients at the children’s hospital access to camp who may not have it otherwise.
Bryan said he thinks the camps are great outlets to help kids forget for a while the hospitals and treatments that have become their norm.
He also said he enjoys helping children and supporting his home state of Georgia. But the opportunity to help the Children’s Hospital of Georgia is particularly special for him.
When Bryan’s son, Bo, now 5, was 5 weeks old, he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition in which the opening of the stomach thickens and closes.
“You’re feeding him and it all comes back up,” he said.
Bo was taken to the Medical College of Georgia Children’s Medical Center, now Children’s Hospital of Georgia, where he underwent surgery to correct it.
“Pyloric is, once you figure out what it is, it’s very treatable, a very easy thing,” Bryan said. “I just know how reassuring the doctors and staff were here.”