Carrie Gore’s face beamed.
When asked by actor John Stamos to name her favorite character from the TV show “Full House,” the 16-year-old student in the special needs class at Sparkman High School didn’t hesitate: “Jesse!”
“If she’d said Bob Saget, I’d have to leave,” Stamos quipped, referring to his series costar.
Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse Katsopolis on the family series for eight seasons, grinned and asked Carrie to be his guest later that night at a Beach Boys concert to benefit Huntsville Hospital’s Foundation.
Stamos, who often plays drums with the Beach Boys, asked to be included in the concert when he heard of the devastation from April tornadoes in Madison County, particularly to the Harvest area where many Sparkman students lived.
Beach Boys Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Stamos were given a tour of hard-hit areas by Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong, including Anderson Hills subdivision, and homes along Yarbrough, Stovall and Hammond roads.
“Dale has been touring us around and really gave us an overview of what has happened,” Love said. “This is devastatingly heartbreaking.”
In Madison County, nine people were killed and at least 300 homes were damaged by the EF-5 that tore through at about 4 p.m. that day. In Limestone County, four people died and 700 homes were damaged — at least 340 irreparably. Six tornadoes have been confirmed in each county on April 27 but surveys are continuing, a National Weather Service forecaster said.
Love said it is ironic the group had planned before the storms to do the benefit concert for the Hospital Foundation’s annual Huntsville Classic at the Von Braun Center to raise funds for a mobile hospital unit.
“The focus of this year’s Classic is to provide a state-of-the-art mobile medical unit for Huntsville Hospital,” said hospital spokeswoman Melissa DeBolt. “In an ironic twist of fate, a unit has been needed many times post-tornado, reinforcing the need for Huntsville Hospital to have a fully-equipped MMU which can be deployed as a disaster response unit when needed.”
The unit would serve 14 North Alabama counties, she said.
Stamos said when touring disaster sites Friday he felt “heartbreak.”
“I felt like I was on the set of a disaster movie,” he said.
Stamos asked to be included in the concert after hearing of the tornadoes. “I was so struck by the devastation from the recent tornadoes in Alabama,” he said. “I knew the Beach Boys had scheduled concerts in the area so I called Mike Love and asked if I could come down and help the band do what they do best which is lift spirits and spread good vibrations.”
As part of the tour, Strong arranged for about 60 Sparkman students whose families were impacted by the storms to come to the library and await a visit from people described only as “special guests.”
When the Beach Boys and Stamos arrived at the school off Jeff Road in Harvest, they were met by a group of teachers and staff with cameras. The group shook hands and offered hugs before going inside to meet students.
Principal Manual Wallace introduced the group, which was greeted with cheers by the students in the library, which also included a group of special needs students.
Stamos told the students he was inspired by their “bravery and tenacity” following the destruction of their homes.
Strong said the willingness of Love, Johnston and Stamos to greet residents who lost their homes lifted spirits of those in the community. The visit helped draw attention to those in Madison and Limestone counties who have felt overlooked by the heavy media coverage of destruction elsewhere in Alabama.
“We’re thankful for them being here,” Strong said.