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June jamming in July temperatures
Tiffany Sands, 23, left, and Rebekah Wigley, 20, center talk as friend Tracy Massey, 32, tries to stay cool at the 2nd Annual June Jam on Saturday at the Brenau University Amphitheatre. The annual event raises funds for Greater Promise, a charity started by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and the Court Appointed Special Advocates program. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Despite the 95-degree heat, several hundred people came out to hear a variety of musical entertainment and to help raise money and awareness for two charities.

The 2nd Annual June Jam charity concert, benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates and Greater Purpose, was held Saturday at the Brenau University Amphitheatre in Gainesville. The event featured local musicians Peggie Hoskins & The Vertigo Band, The Allen Nivens Band and The American Flyers. Headlining the event was "American Idol" finalist and Snellville native Diana DeGarmo.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who was at Saturday’s concert, said he started Greater Purpose to help the economically challenged children of single parents by providing money to create a life-changing experience for the children.

Scholarships given to families range from $500 to $1,000 and can go toward things such as camps, sports, music or other programs to help fulfill the children’s dreams.

Cagle, who lives in South Hall County, said he believes that the charity is a way to remind people that everyone has meaning and purpose in life, and it also provides a way "to give back to the community, but especially to the children."

Cagle was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs.

CASA is an organization that provides volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children involved in juvenile court proceedings.

Mitch Farmer and Chad Black, organizers of the event, said they set a goal of raising $100,000. Last year, the benefit raised $25,000, Farmer said.

Almost half of this year’s goal had been reached through ticket sales and donations even before the event began Saturday, Farmer said.

The two also said they hoped that between 750 to 1,000 people would end up attending the event, whereas only 500 people attended last year.

They both expected the hot weather would be a factor and expected more people to come out after sundown.

When asked about the effect of Saturday’s benefit, Cagle said, "This event is a great way to bring the community together with some great entertainment, all for a good cause."

In addition to helping charities, the event also was filled with music and fun. The master of ceremonies, WDUN’s Katie Highsmith, told the crowd before the concert began, "The weather may be hot, but the acts we have will be much, much hotter."

Guests came from all over to see the shows. Jen Martin, of Pacuare, Wis., and her friend Karen Kiscr, of Knoxville, Tenn., both 24, said they drove several hours to see DeGarmo. When asked why they were at the event, both said, "We love DeGarmo!" Both said they are members of her fan club and have been to many of her performances.

Another DeGarmo fan, Cassidy Kimmel, 7, of Dahlonega, arrived with her mother, Shannon Gilleland, at 5 p.m., loaded with chairs and snacks for the big event.

In addition to DeGarmo, several bands played at the event. Peggie Hoskins & The Vertigo Band, featuring music filled with gospel, soul, funk rock and blues, has performed across the Southeast. The Allen Nivens Band, a North Georgia country group, plays original songs and covers. Another band, The American Flyers, plays a wide variety of music, but mainly classic rock and R&B, however, they also put a little disco into their performances.

Phil Fontana, the bass player and lead singer of the American Flyers and long-time Gainesville resident, said the group was asked to play at this event by their agent. Since arriving at noon to get everything ready for the show, Phil said that it had been a hot afternoon.

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