Abilene’s 52nd Annual West Texas Rehab Telethon and Auction Breaks Fundraising Record

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The 52nd annual West Texas Rehab Telethon and Auction went off without a hitch on Saturday. The City of Abilene hosted a myriad of guests to help organize and entertain the event, while raising funds for a great cause. The goal for this year’s telethon was $1.5 million, and thanks to everyone who donated time or money, or both, that goal was exceeded well beyond expectations. It was a record, in fact. At the final count, more than $100,000 was raised in addition to this objective.

Proceeds from Saturday’s auction and telethon will go to the West Texas Rehabilitation Center, to help the private nonprofit organization serve its hundreds of patients, despite their financial circumstances or concerns.

While many donors were happy to issue checks for the good cause, the event’s musical guests may have stolen the show.

Rising country music star Gabby Barrett opened the telethon portion of the event with her husband, Cade Foehner, by her side on guitar.

Cade Foehner (left) and Gabby Barrett (right) sing “Footprints on the Moon” at West Texas Rehab’s 52nd Annual Telethon and Auction

Together they performed two songs – “Jesus & My Mama” and “Footprints on the Moon”.

Between the two songs, Barrett took a moment to express her gratitude to Abilene and her support for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center.

“As a mom now, kids are even more special to me,” Barrett said. “During my audition for American Idol, I sang the Lauryn Hill version of ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow (originally performed by Whitney Houston)’. And I truly believe that the Lord is watching over my daughter and children served by the West Texas Rehab Center.

Gabby Barrett greets fans while singing “Jesus & My Mama” at the Abilene Convention Center, January 2022

Hours before Barrett took the stage at the Abilene Convention Center, she told KTAB/KRBC that she loved being involved in charity work and felt blessed to serve in Abilene.

The young star went on to say that it is through her love for music and her ability to share it with the world that she plans to continue spreading joy to all who need it.

Gabby Barrett won the 2021 Billboard Music Awards Top Female Country Artist and fan-voted award for Best Collaboration, for her work with pop music star Charlie Puth in their song ‘I Hope’ . Barrett has also been nominated for numerous other awards at the Country Music Awards and the American Music Awards.

The country music group, Sawyer Brown, shared the stage. Sawyer Brown’s lead singer Mark Miller told KTAB/KRBC they’re excited to return to Abilene’s West Texas Rehab Telethon and Auction. The last time they played for the event was in 2016.

Sawyer Brown played two of their songs: “The Boys and Me” and “Drive Me Wild”.

The group won the Country Music Association Award for New Artist of the Year in 1985 and the Academy of Country Music Award for Vocal Duo or Group of the Year in 1997.

Although the musical headliners were attractive, donors ultimately wanted to show their support for the West Texas Rehab Telethon and Auction.

(left to right) Carolyn McEnrue, Joni McKinnon and Jennifer Smith host part of the auction at the 52nd Annual West Texas Rehab Telethon and Auction

The auction featured over 600 items up for auction, in no less than 19 categories.

KTAB’s Joni McKinnon was more than happy to share her Saturday to give back to the Abilene community.

She spent the day on the auction site, helping sell items and fundraising.

When it closed, the West Texas Rehabilitation Center raised an official total of $1,625,809, more than $125,000 over the $1.5 million goal.

This is a record amount, and KTAB expresses its deepest gratitude and support to everyone who donated time and money to help the West Texas Rehabilitation Center.

Corina C. Butler