Davidson: Willie Nelson takes ill, but the Dumb Friends League benefit goes on

5:42 PM, Aug 26, 2012   |    comments
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That the 79-year-old country music legend wasn't going to be able to sing came as quite a surprise to the 586 guests, the majority of whom heard the news when attorney Fred Bartlit made the announcement in the pause between dinner and the start of a liveauction. Bartlit and his wife, Jana, a lifetime trustee of the Dumb Friends League, have hosted the barbecue for each of its 11 years.

"The good news is that all of you are here for the animals," Bartlit said before turning the microphone over to auctioneers Jim Odle and John Clatworthy, who proceeded to draw in big bids like the $55,000 that will go toward hay and grain for abused and neglected horses at the league's Harmony Equine Center near Franktown.

In the end, a record $679,000 was raised. "It is truly humbling to see such kindness and support," said Bob Rohde, the league's president and CEO.

Altitude apparently was the culprit, exacerbating Nelson's emphysema. He apparently recovered sufficiently after returning to sea level to resume his tour schedule. Nelson's daughter, Amy, claimed accounts of her dad's condition were overblown and that he had not been hospitalized, even though people close to the situation said that he had, and that members of his band were "quite shaken" by it.

Read more of Joanne Davidson's story in the Denver Post.

(Copyright 2012 The Denver Post)

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