Eric Lee of Enterprise, Ala., enjoys helping people out.
He had done some previous work for an autism benefit in West Virginia and his sister-in-law, Amber Crisco, thought it would be nice to bring it closer to home.
Lee will be playing a two-hour set starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at Moon Lake/Idle Hour Park in Phenix City. The event is free, but donations are encouraged and all proceeds will benefit the Autism Hope Center in Columbus, a preschool that specializes in helping autistic children prepare to enter school.
The benefit couldn't have come at a better time -- Diane Pope, president of the Muscogee County Autism Support Group, said they've had to temporarily shut down the preschool due to lack of funding, though they still serve the community in a support capacity.
While she said they're currently working a few different avenues to reopen, they don't have a timetable set and she noted that the program is expensive to run because it requires a large staff (generally a 1:1 or 1:2 teacher to student ratio).
Lee said that one of the reasons he's so willing to help raise money and awareness for autism is because he knows how difficult it is to secure funding.
While neither he nor Crisco have any direct experience with autism, "children touch our heart," said Crisco.
Lee acknowledged that while he's about to embark on his first nation-wide tour, this benefit is not about him -- it's about the kids.
"I'm not going to turn down any chance to help people out," he said.
During the concert, Lee will play original songs, as well as old country and Southern rock. He describes his sound as "redneck, down-home country music."
The Autism Hope Center will be at the event with information about autism and Crisco said they'll present the donations to the Center before the night is over.
There will also be popcorn, water and snacks available throughout the event. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic; however, due to park rules, dogs, alcohol, bikes and skates are not permitted.
Katie McCarthy, features writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8515.