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Bands play for kidney donation awareness in Decatur

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

From the Herald & Review

DECATUR — Tommy Butts was a retired Decatur police officer who loved playing bass guitar in country music bands, loved life, and had planned to use one to celebrate the continuation of the other.

Tragically for Butts, time ran out as he waited for a matching donor and the transplant that would have saved him from the kidney disease that claimed his life Sept. 17, 2019, at the age of 58.

But the music event he had dreamed of as a way to say "thank you" if that donor had been found went ahead anyway on Sunday at the Decatur Civic Center. This time, however, the focus was on calling attention to the desperate need for more kidney donors and to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, which helps patients battling kidney disease.

His widow, Sarah, organized Sunday’s event — calling it “Team Tommy’s Donor Roundup" — and said the Tommy Team consisted of his family and friends.

Sarah Butts stands ready to greet visitors to Sunday's Decatur music concert in memory of her late husband, Tommy Butts. The retired Decatur police officer and serving Macon County court security officer died in 2019 while waiting for a kidney transplant.

Getting to the point of being able to stage Sunday’s show, which featured the music of five live bands, had involved a long and difficult path as the date was twice put off due to the sudden arrival of a new disease, COVID-19.

Sarah Butts, married to her husband for 30 years, isn’t easily put off, however.

“The idea of this event actually started with him,” said Butts, 50. “He just loved country music and he would have loved this. So I took the reins and I hope I am doing him proud.”

The music went on throughout Sunday afternoon and took a novel approach to fundraising. Each band — Feudin Hillbillys, Wreckless Whiskey, NCR, Brushville and the NATU Band — played for an hour in the Civic Center arena.