A benefit concert for a Stephenville radio host who needs a heart transplant is taking place in Weatherford next month.
Jody Lee Caudle is owner, general manager and Morning Show host at Texas Homegrown Radio. Proceeds will help offset medical costs for Caudle, who has no insurance, while he waits for a heart.
Durenda Meints, a Springtown resident, attended another benefit for Caudle in Fort Worth with her boyfriend, who won the auction for a concert. Instead of taking personal advantage of the concert, he decided to make the concert a charity event for Caudle.
Though he hasn’t experienced problems until two years ago, Caudle said he was born with a weak heart that is most likely hereditary.
Having heart problems complicated other health problems. For example, Caudle has a hernia and cracked ribs that cannot be addressed because of his heart. Since learning of his heart problems, Caudle has been in the hospital about 15 times, mostly to drain fluids.
Because of his self-employed job, Caudle doesn’t have insurance and treatment is costly. At first, doctors wanted to install a defibrillator in Caudle for $80,000.
“I blame myself for all of it because right before it happened I remember saying, ‘I don’t need insurance; I’m as strong as an ox. I haven’t been to the doctor in 10 years. I’m never sick,’” Caudle said. “And, then boom.”
For the last several weeks, Meints has organized the concert by securing sponsorships, the location, performing artists, food vendors and bounce houses for children. The event is called Hearts in the Park and takes place on March 8 at Heritage Park on the First Monday Grounds. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. and performances run until 7:30 p.m. Carter BloodCare will host a blood drive at the event, and Lifegift will sign up organ donors.
“I think it’s God’s will,” Meints said. “If you feel inspired or motivated for something, you just do it.”
Admission is $10 at the door, and kids under age 12 are free. All proceeds from the event will go to Caudle’s medical expenses. Meints has arranged for Caudle to view the event from a recreational vehicle near the stage so he can watch the show yet be isolated from bacteria.
Meints believes in free medical care and compassion for others, she said.
“There’s a need for this young man at this time who needs it right away and I have resources, like all of these artists,” Meints said. “I had so many artists volunteer to do this show that I am honestly thinking of doing another one in August or September on a Saturday.”
Performers Tommy Alverson, Mack Abernathy, The Zach Edwards Fiasco, Jonna Mae and the Mae Flies and Sunshine Emery are scheduled to perform at the event.
Zach Edwards described Caudle as funny and friendly. Caudle supports independent artists and the “red dirt” scene in Texas, Edwards said.
“I hate to see him go through as much as he’s gone through week after week after week, and it’s so much,” Edwards said. “It’s just bound to be taking a toll, not only just to his overall wellness and health but I’m sure the financial end of it is really hurting for him as well. For us to get together and do that for him to help out as much as we can with any financial end of it on his end, I am happy to be a part of it and happy to help out any way we can.”
Caudle said it has been his mission to give chances to new artists.
“It’s so hard for these new musicians because a lot of people won’t play them until they get so high up the charts,” Caudle said. “Someone’s gotta be the first one to do it, so I’ve always kind of made it my mission to help out the new artists.”
Caudle said having benefits for him, something he used to plan for others, has been a humbling experience. If he is well enough to attend, this benefit in Weatherford will be the first that he’s able to attend as the others happened while he was in the hospital.
“I really appreciate people like Durenda doing that,” Caudle said. “I didn’t even know her when she decided to do this. I was like, man, how incredible is it that somebody who doesn’t know you decides to take all this on, and I know how much work it takes to do it. So that’s pretty amazing that somebody would do that for me that I didn’t know.”
Going forward, Caudle would like to help Meints plan a benefit for someone else next year and pay it forward.
Sponsors for the event are Maddie Lou’s Bar and Grill, Weatherford Parks, Recreation and Special Events Department, Alpha Graphics, American Dream Flag and Banner Manufacturing and Weichert Realtors, among others.