Asleep at the Wheel Benefit Concert for Texas Special Olympic Contenders

Nine-time Grammy winners Asleep at the Wheel play a benefit concert July 7 to raise money for the Lamar County Contenders.The concert is set for 8 p.m. at Love Civic Center in Paris. Beer, wine and setups will be available for purchase.Asleep at the Wheel was created in Paw Paw, W. Va., in 1970. The group moved to California, then relocated to Austin in 1973, at the suggestion of Willie Nelson.

Hit singles soon followed, including “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read” and “One O’clock Jump.”

In 1977, the group was named “Best Country & Western Band” by Rolling Stone magazine and “Touring Band of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music.

Asleep at the Wheel made an appearance in the 1978 film Roadie, which also featured Meat Loaf, Blondie and Art Carney.

The group continued to record and tour to great success within the genre, racking up nine Grammy wins.

A 1993 tribute album, Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, featuring performances by Garth Brooks, George Strait and Vince Gill, went high on the charts.

Asleep at the Wheel was selected for the concert after the group volunteered to put on a benefit for the Special Olympics in Austin, said Linda Wolfe, Contenders head coach.

“I heard a rumor they were going to be up in Northeast Texas, so I contacted them to see if we could take advantage of their being up in this area,” she said. “We negotiated fees and dates, and they agreed to do the benefit.”

Lamar County Contenders are a group of intellectually disabled adults, who compete in the sport of bowling at the Texas Special Olympics.

The team is composed of 38 male and female athletes ranging in ages from 19 to 50 and several volunteer coaches.

The athletes’ goal each year is to participate in the Texas Special Olympics area and state competitions.

The biggest milestone is the state competition, which takes place in San Antonio in early 2008 and involves more than 5,000 athletes.

Lamar County Contenders is currently raising funds to cover team travel expenses and competition entry fees.

Because the Contenders are an adult team, they do not receive any support from the local school districts. The team is entirely dependent on financial support from local service clubs, businesses and individuals.

Advance tickets to Asleep at the Wheel are $20 and are available at Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, Team Printing, Century 21 – Harvey Properties, Kwik Kar and The Paris News. Tickets are $5 more at the door.

Sponsorship tables seating 10 are available for $500 by contacting Wolfe at 903-785-5455.

Will-call tickets can be obtained by sending a check made payable to: Special Olympics, 1017 CR 33715, Paris, TX 75460.

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