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Cowboy hats and boots were out as Tim McGraw and Love and Theft took the stage for the 2013 Lou’s LaGrotto’s Concert for a Cause on Saturday night. At 4 p.m. people began to pour into the outside stage area at Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru. Concert promoter Merry Noonan said they were able to sell 6,000 tickets before that day. “It’s a little lower than expected,” she said. Noonan said she thought the recent rainy weather may have caused the lower pre-purchase rate and hoped that many people would buy tickets that night. Cowboy, local DJ for 96.5 the Wolf, kicked off the show by introducing the opening act Love and Theft. The group played several of their own songs along with covers of other country songs, including those of Johnny Cash. Just before McGraw took the stage a helicopter was seen landing backstage, presumably holding the country superstar. Soon after lights started to flash on stage and McGraw’s band began to play. McGraw soon joined them as the crowd burst into cheers. He opened his act by playing “Where the Green Grass Grows.” “He’s so nice,” said Noonan about the singer. “The people are so nice to work with. It’s exciting we have Tim McGraw here.” Lou’s La Grotto started hosting Concert for a Cause in 2005. The program has attracted several popular artists, including Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Big Time Rush and Willie Nelson. This year’s charity of choice was the March of Dimes. “We are so excited that Merry picked us to be the beneficiary of this concert,” said March of Dimes Heartland Division of Illinois director Peggy Cain. Cain said the organization was chosen because of the story of ambassador mom Brandy Reilly. Reilly discovered she had a hereditary blood clotting disorder which caused complications with the pregnancy of her son Logan. She was given two doses of lung surfactant, or steroid, to help with Logan’s lung development. When she was only 31 weeks along, the doctors had to perform an emergency C-section, and Logan was born weighing only 1 pound, 7 ounces. Logan was placed in a neonatal intensive care unit until he was healthier. Today, Logan is 5 and has a normal child’s life, Reilly said. However, he is smaller than other kids his age and he developed a chronic lung disease from his time on ventilators at birth. Reilly learned that the March of Dimes was involved with development of the steroid and NICU and became a spokeswoman for the group. “We would just like people to know what the March of Dimes is,” she said. “How we support preventing premature births, making sure all babies are born healthy and pregnancies are carried out to full term.” Cain said the latest campaign by the group is to make sure women do not induce labor before 39 weeks. She said the brain matures a lot during the last six weeks of a fetus’ development. The organization found that babies born early can have learning, social and coordination issues. “I just think it’s a great cause,” said Noonan. “They’ve just been wonderful people to work with.” The next Concert for a Cause performance will be Brantley Gilbert on Aug. 3 at Illinois Valley Regional Airport. All proceeds will go to Peru Little League. For more information, visit www.louslagrotto.com.