Susie McEntire honored at tenth annual Toys For Tots concert

From left, concert oganizer Mike Loher and Pastor Rob Seewald, of Leesburg Methodist Church joined Susie McEntire and husband Mark Eaton for a photo with proclamations and a cake after Saturday's show. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Susie McEntire was honored Saturday night by country music elite and Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch for her ten-year legacy of supporting Toys For Toys at her annual Country Christmas concert in Warsaw.

But the celebration took on a somber note after McEntire, told the audience she has struggled with the remnants of Covid-19 that has left her exhausted and straining to sing.

She said she believed she’s had Covid at least twice and that she worries about her ability to sing.

Earlier in the day, she hosted a “Pamper Me,” event at Lakeview Middle School (where the concert was held) that included uplifting messages and Christmas items for sale directed toward women.

“I think I’ve kind of overdone it today but tonight I got to where I couldn’t get my breath,” she said, “And that was a big thing.”

Susie is the sister of country music legend Reba McEntire, a renowned voice in country music over the past four decades.

Susie herself is a member of the Christian Music Hall of Fame. She and husband Mark Eaton built a career that embedded Christian ministsy along with their country music talents.

The couple from Oklahoma became a Christmas holiday mainstay in Warsaw after local concert organizer Mike Loher established the Toys for Tots concert benefit ten years ago.

Over the years, the show featured McEntire alongside country singer Linda Davis for shows that have drawn hundreds of the middle school auditorium.

Saturday’s show expanded to include those three and five other entertainers, all performing on stage together, taking some of the singing duties off the shoulders of McEntire.

Toward the end of the show, McEntire confided to the crowd between songs about her health problems in what became an emotional confession of sorts.

She also talked about how music is a gift of God

“I got to where I thought I might not ever sing in front of anybody again and it may leave me today, but if it does I’m gonna praise God that I had the time to be able to sing,” she said.

That soon led into a video tribute with short clips from Reba, Dolly Parton and a handful of others including a member of the band, Diamond Rio.

McEntire thanked everyone, including Loher.

“I just thank God. Mike … you worked your butt off doing this and I don’t know how you got Dolly, but that’s about the best thing in the world,” she said.

Crouch, Indiana’s second highest elected leader, then presented McEntire with the state’s highest award in honor for her contributions in helping Indiana residents.

“We give very few of these honors out a year and certainly I not sure we’ve ever given any out to anyone to Oklahoma but on behalf of the state of Indiana and Gov. Holcomb I want to bestow upon you Susie and you Mark the highest honor we can give to any Hooser – and since you are honorary Hoosiers – we are honored and happy to honor you with the Sagamore of the Wabash award,” Crouch said.

Much of the show leaned on McEntire’s stage mates including Linda Davs, and Jenifer Wrinkle who worked previously over the years with Reba.

It ended with a final Christmas song and a celebratory photo of the couple along side Loher and pastor Pastor Rob Seewald, of Leesburg Methodist Church.