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John Berry to bring annual Christmas show to Gainesville

Concert to benefit Challenged Child and Friends

POSTED: November 28, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Country music singer John Berry will bring his annual Christmas tour to Riverside Academy on Tuesday night to benefit the Gainesville nonprofit organization Challenged Child and Friends.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the Sandy Beaver Theatre at the Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville. Tickets are $30 to $35 and can be purchased at www.miltonmartinhonda.com or www.challengedchild.org.

Sponsored by Milton Martin Honda, the annual concert aims to bring Berry’s renditions of famous Christmas songs to an intimate environment, while simultaneously raising money for charity.

“It’s a festive, upbeat and encouraging Christmas-themed concert,” said Butch Miller, general manager of Milton Martin Honda. “John and his wife Robin perform duets and Christmas carols and all kinds of music that people just have great feelings for.”

Berry, who has recorded seven albums of his own music in addition to four holiday-themed ones, is well-known for his Christmas tours. The show will be split between his own original works and holiday songs such as “O Holy Night” and other carols.

The concert is funded and staffed by volunteers, which allows for all of the proceeds to benefit charities. This year’s concert benefits Challenged Child and Friends, a local school for children younger than 6 years old that aims to promote learning and understanding by integrating children with special needs and their typically developing peers.

The school has 165 children enrolled, spanning from 6 weeks old to 6 years old. The school boasts a full-time curriculum as well as extended care into the afternoon and early evening. Roughly 55 percent of the students have special needs, with the remaining being typical students.

“Both are completely integrated and that is what makes Challenged Child so special,” said Cindy Wilson, director of development and marketing for the organization. “Some of the children with special needs may not have had any interaction with typical children before. It helps them learn how to act around people and the other students learn compassion.

“They don’t think their friends are any different and they both learn from each other.”

The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and serves students from 13 counties in North Georgia.

Miller originally came up with the idea for the annual John Berry concert after attending one of his Christmas concerts with his wife after their son, Cole, passed away. The two were so overcome with the music and atmosphere, they, along with local residents Jim and Malinda Foote, decided to recreate it, Miller said.

“My wife, I, Jim and Malinda decided to do something during the Christmas season that would not only be a fond remembrance of Cole, but also something uplifting and encouraging to the community,” he said. “John Berry and I had a mutual friend and I mentioned the idea to him and the next thing I knew, we were on a conference call with his agent.

“It was just something that was meant to be.”


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