LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Since last May, Grace Care Center in Lufkin has been giving their residents bucket list dreams through the "Grace Filled Dreams" program.
Every couple of months, the nursing home teams up with local businesses to make those dreams come true for each and every resident willing to fulfill a life-long dream.
On Tuesday, a dream came true for 58-year-old Eddie Ethridge, who suffers from memory loss and some other health issues that cause him to live at the residential care facility.
"His dream was to record a CD—and we just don't like to make the dream happen, we like to make it big. We like to make that day about those residents," said Jeffrey Fatheree, the Executive Director for Grace Care Center.
Grace Care Center decided to let Ethridge have his shining moment, by setting up a concert at Standpipe Coffee House where he would sing several of his favorite country western and blues songs with background music played by East Texan natives Johnny Riley, Jr. and Tim Burge.
Although, Eddie isn't a real musician, the center allowed him to be one for a day, calling his band Eddie & the Ramblers.
Fatheree says Ethridge had no idea the plan was in place and was first told that he was going to just be participating in a talent competition, but once he found out the truth, Fatheree says Ethridge was so excited.
"He just started dancing a jig in the hall. He was spinning around and just carrying on. We had talked to him a couple weeks ago about singing and Eddie loves to sing," Fatheree said. "This morning, we let the cat out of the bag and let him know what all was going on and he was so excited."
Eddie's adoring "fans" lined up outside Standpipe shortly after 12 p.m. with signs reading "I love you Eddie!" and "Number 1 Fan," as Eddie showed up in a stylish charter bus donated by Fore Travel. As he stepped out of the bus, decked out in a Cowboy outfit from Cavender's Boot City, Eddie began to smile from ear-to-ear as his friends and family cheered his name.
"He's so happy. It's been an amazing experience. He'll talk about this for years and years and years. We will never hear the end of it, which is amazing," said Shai Pierce, a friend from church.
Eddie was so excited during the show, he even busted a few moves of his own, and Johnny Riley, Jr., whose real band is actually called Johnny Riley & the Reckoning, says it's great to be a part of the program.
"My mom and dad were associated with Grace Care and in fact, they both passed away there so Jeff called me and we were in off the road and asked us if we would like to do this and I said 'sure. We would love to be there and do that!'" Riley Jr. said.
After the show, Eddie got to sign autographs for his fans and said he couldn't wait to hold his CD in his hands.
"I've never seen that before. I like it though. I felt like a star," Eddie said. "It was a dream come true."
Four or five copies of Eddie's CD will be made for family and friends, and Eddie will get his poster framed. He will also be allowed to hang his banner up in his bedroom.
The other businesses who participated in Eddie's show of a lifetime were Sign Shop Too, and KYKS.
Fatheree says they will be having another "Grace Filled Dream" in June.