Community gathers to support Victoria Tejano musician
Frank Benavides and his hermanos in the local Tejano scene would talk music and eat their off-the-menu breakfast every week at Don Jose's restaurant.
"It all began with Frank," former bandmate Jackie Torres said. "He's always first to order - he orders big - and we all pick up from him."
The breakfast club, which began about six years ago, has sat as many as 15 music lovers at the restaurant's only round table. But its numbers have dwindled to just a couple diners since Benavides fell ill.
Benavides suffered a debilitating aneurysm in late June.
The aneurysm left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. His family said he's become more aware lately and is opening his eyes.
Benavides is the type of man who hasn't met a stranger, friends say. Everyone is a friend.
"Sometimes, I'd get to the restaurant before him," Torres said, "and he'd come in and go straight to the other customers and shake their hands. He is a good man."
Benavides, 59, has played with many Tejano bands in Victoria and is most known for playing guitar with The Majestics. His wife, Gloria Garza, said Benavides has been making music since he was 12 years old, and he has played Texas from south to north and west to east.
"He loves music," she said.
Benavides also owns Insect Control of Victoria.
Family and friends - with a lot of support from community leaders like Jane Bernal - gathered Sunday at the Club Westerner to hold a barbecue and auction fundraiser. Four local bands - Robert Charles Band, The Krystals, La Guerra Musical and The Majestics - performed Friday at the club in his honor, as well.
"He is a good guy who has touched so many people," said Chris Rivera, a friend.
Rivera said he and Benavides spend every Sunday barbecuing during football season, and he can't imagine him not being around this year.
"It's going to be tough, him not being there this season," he said, recalling a recent visit to his friend. "He opened his eyes and looked like he had so many things to tell me - I had to stop, go outside and just cry and pray before going back in there. I went back in there and told him he had nothing to worry about. I told him we'd take care of it."
The benefit Friday and Sunday was put together to help defray the musician's medical costs.
While a grand total of plates sold and money raised in a live auction had not been totaled Sunday night, event planner Mario Garcia said it was successful. More than 1,000 plates of barbecue had sold by 11 a.m. Sunday.
"We want to make sure that he has enough money that he doesn't worry," Rivera said. "We all love him so much that we want to make sure he is taken care of."
A Gofundme.com account has raised $1,345 since June.
Family said they weren't surprised by the support the community has shown, saying that is just what they do when someone is in need.
"I've never met a person who doesn't like him," Allison Arguelles said about her father-in-law. "To know him is to love him."