JACKSON COUNTY -- As many as 900 people were expected to turn out by land and by water Saturday for the eighth annual Kenny Crawford Memorial Benefit at the Little River Marina in Escatawpa.
The beneficiaries of this year's event will be Alyssa Grace Davis, 1½; Natalie Hightower, 13; and Jaxon Schoenberger, 6; ho are all battling medical conditions.
Treasurer Alison Lynd said Alyssa Grace is undiagnosed but suffers from muscle issues; Natalie has brain cancer and is about to undergo her 10th of 12 treatments and her parents are hoping for good news after next month's scan; Schoenberger suffers from an inoperable brain tumor and is getting chemotherapy.
"Knowing that the community is behind them and praying for them is big," Lynd said. "It's all about that community spirit."
The event got off to a fast start Saturday -- organizers had to run out about noon to print more tickets after selling out.
The early rush set the tone for what turned out to be a big day for the benefit, which featured raffles, a live auction, live music and good Southern food. The big event was the poker run, which had stops at Little River Marina, Mary Walker Marina, Paige Bayou Marina, Shingle Mill Landing and Sioux Bayou Fish Camp.
"This is all about local people helping local people," volunteer Don Overby said. "Everybody just has big hearts, I think."
Overby, a first-year volunteer, said when he heard about who the benefit would help, it was nearly impossible to say no.
"It's all about the three children. I don't know them but I believe in helping children and what goes around comes around," he said.
Tommy Crawford, one of Kenny Crawford's three older brothers, said his brother would have been humbled by Saturday's turnout.
Kenny Crawford, who he died shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, owned a recording studio and was known -- among other charitable acts -- for helping up-and-coming musicians by practically giving away studio time.
"This (benefit) would blow him away. But he would be embarrassed by it a little bit, at the same time," Tommy Crawford said. "He might show up, but he would have come in the back door, sat down and not said anything. That's how he was -- unless he was playing the guitar."
Looking around at the multitude of volunteers in neon shirts running around, even Tommy Crawford was taken aback by his brother's caring legacy.
"This told me something about how many friends he had," he said. "How many peoples' lives did he touch who cared enough to start a thing like this and name it after him? You think about it."
Including a 15-foot aluminum skiff that was being raffled off, Overby said the benefit gave away close to $10,000 in prizes throughout the day. The three beneficiaries are expected to receive their donations next week.