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Benefit will aid KRCC

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

(Photo)
Friends Joanna Eastep and Michael Anthony Smith greet each other Monday morning.
SIKESTON -- Those who attend an upcoming benefit for Kenny Rogers Children's Center can relive the music of Elvis Presley while helping local children in the process.

A concert by Michael Anthony Smith, "The Hillbilly Cat," is scheduled from 6-8:30 p.m. March 10 at the Clinton Building, 501 Campanella Drive.

Smith, who is working in his seventh year as an Elvis Presley tribute artist, will perform the show in honor of JoAnna Eastep of Sikeston and her friends at the Kenny Rogers Children's Center.

"JoAnna gave me inspiration the first time we met," said Smith, 31, of Bloomfield.

The two met after one of Smith's performances in March 2003. Then in January 2004, Smith nearly died in a car accident.

Just when Smith was about to give up performing Presley tributes, Eastep inspired him to keep going.

"I told her I won't ever be able to perform again, and she said, 'Don't you say that. Don't give up,'" Smith said.

With Eastep's motivation and some intense physical therapy, Smith recovered and continued performing.

"I gave her the nickname 'Angel' because she was like an angel on my shoulder," Smith said.

Now the two, along with their family members, meet for dinner dates about once or twice a month.

It was out of that friendship and Smith's talent Carolyn Cox of Sikeston and fellow members of District 5029 Avon Representatives developed last year's concert featuring Smith that benefited KRCC.

"I originally hired Mike three years ago at an awards banquet, and we've kind of followed him since then," Cox said.

Knowing Eastep attended KRCC, Smith said he'd like to do a benefit, Cox said.

"About 12 of us got together and said we can do this," Cox said.

Last year's event proved successful, raising over $1,500 for KRCC with 175 people in attendance.

"At the end of concert, he received a standing ovation," said Cox, event chair. "He said he'd be back next year."

Smith said attendees to his show can expect to hear a lot of Elvis songs. Smith begins his show with songs from Presley's early years, moves through the movie years into the '68 Comeback Special and finishes with Presley's Vegas years.

There are also several costume changes along the way and lots of crowd interaction, Eastep said.

"When he performs, he's awesome," Eastep said. "I danced so hard at it, I broke my femur."

Eastep isn't kidding. After attending one of Smith's performances, she really did break a bone in her leg.

"He doesn't ever do a concert with the same outfit on. He looks like Elvis in the younger days and he's got Elvis' movement and got a good voice," Cox said.

The evening will also include an silent auction, door prizes and refreshments. An "Elvis" quilt raffle was added this year. Tickets are $1 each or 7 for $5.

KRCC provides occupational, physical and speech therapy to children throughout Southeast Missouri. Although she hasn't utilized the Center lately, Eastep began attending the Center when she was 4 years old.

"This is my way of giving back to the other kids," Eastep, 31, said about her involvement in the benefit.

Eastep said the Center helps children build strength, independence and encouragement.

"This is a family-oriented event for a very good cause," Cox said. "By attending you will help to touch many children's lives at the Kenny Rogers Children's Center."

Advanced tickets are $6 and available by calling (573) 471-6029. Tickets at the door are $7 each.

What: Concert by Michael Anthony Smith, "The Hillbilly Cat"

When: March 10 at 8:30 p.m.

Where: Clinton Building, 501 Campanella Drive

Advanced tickets are $6 and available by calling (573) 471-6029. Tickets at the door are $7 each.

What: 27th Annual Kenny Rogers Children's Center Telethon

When: March 24 & 25

Where: Sikeston Field House

For tickets and event details call 472-0397.