Recovering from stroke, Randy Travis appears at benefit

Country music star Randy Travis attended a charity event in Denison last Thursday, his first public appearance since suffering a stroke in 2013.

DENISON — Randy Travis walked into a hangar at North Texas Regional Airport Thursday night to attend the Four Rivers Outreach banquet. While up and about, Travis's fiancée Mary Davis said they've still got a long way to go on the road to recovery.

"Every day we go to speech therapy and physical therapy and occupational therapy," she said. "We're learning words and phrases; learning to sing. Of course, the music and the songs come easy for him … he's working on it. He's got the heart of a warrior, and he doesn't stop."

Davis said Travis can talk a little, and has been working hard since suffering a stroke in July 2013. "He knows that the road ahead of us is long and tedious, but he's up for the challenge," she said. "He's never, never shied away from it… never asked, 'Why me?'"

"I have not seen Randy since last year when we were here," said friend and fellow country music artist Larry Gatlin. "I really feel bad about what has happened to him."

Four Rivers Outreach said last year's performance by Travis helped them raise big money, and that's why they were glad he was able to return for the 2014 event.

"The second year we raised $105,000; last year we raised $169,000," said Arthur Horn, co-founder of the charitable organization. "Just being able to be here is a big improvement, because he couldn't even get out of the hospital and travel for a long time."

Travis was sentenced to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a 2012 drunk driving charge near Tioga. Police said his blood alcohol level was 0.21, more than twice the legal limit.

Since that time, he had only performed at the 2013 Four Rivers benefit concert. The county's probation director said under an agreement with the court, Travis had planned more performances until health issues sidelined him.

"If Four Rivers were to have to pay him to come and do a performance, it would be pretty astronomical," said probation department spokesman Alan Brown. "If you broke that down into an hourly wage, then he's more than fulfilled his requirements as far as his community service if you looked at it that way."

Mary Davis said Travis is working to get back on stage doing what he loves to do.


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