Drought recalls Round-Up for Rehab roots
BRONTE — The year was 1960, a time much like 2012.
At the Chadbourne Ranch, 12 miles north of here, Conda and Edna Wylie, like their neighbors, were struggling to overcome seven years of the 1950s' drought, the worst in their lives.
Edna came home from Abilene one day after touring the fledgling West Texas Rehabilitation Center. So impressed with the work done there in two rooms of an Abilene school by Shelley Smith, a young physical therapist, and his wife Shirley, a teacher, Edna Wylie suggested to her husband they needed to provide some assistance.
Similar to the 1950s, the drought of 2011 and its spillover into 2012 has forced culling and liquidation of cattle herds.
Strapped for cash and tired of feeding what few cattle they had left on the range with no market demand in 1960, the Wylies donated a few head of cattle to WTRC and told Shelley to sell them and convert the money into treatment.
Remembering the stories from fall roundups of long ago, the gesture of selling livestock to raise operating funds lit a spark, and Shelley fanned the flame. It resulted in the concept of Cattlemen's Round-Up for Crippled Children, which has evolved from that one pen of cattle to an annual commitment of the total agriculture community across the Lone Star State. Known as the oldest annual fundraising event for WTRC, Round-Up for Rehab has generated more than $15 million in 52 years. As the 2012 annual Round-Up for Rehab kicks off this week, WTRC officials and county volunteers are gathering around the authentic 1910 chuck wagon this weekend at 154-year-old Fort Chadbourne to map strategy for this year.
"It is fitting that this event takes place here," said Garland Richards, whose great-great-grandfather Thomas L. Odom established the O-D Ranch in 1876 with abandoned Fort Chadbourne as his headquarters. "Even more fitting is the fact that my grandparents (Conda and Edna Wylie) unofficially were responsible for starting the Round-Up."
However, because of drought and herd liquidation, the cattle roundups of the 1800s are no longer a suitable prototype for a 21st century event. This year's Rehab Round-Up is forced to implement new fundraising measures.
Consequently, volunteers are prompting more donations of cash as a saving measure of the event.
Case in point, on Aug. 4 at the Brownwood coliseum, "Remembering When" dinner show featuring Jake Penrod as Hank Williams filled the facility. In turn, the former auction sales benefiting WTRC in Brown County has a new theme.
Some 150 volunteers, including Honorary Chairman Red Steagall and General Chairmen Mike Alexander and Randy Carson, of Abilene, and Jody Frey and Bob Helmers, of San Angelo, are assisting the Round-Up by promoting activities and asking neighbors to join them in donating to the fall drive.
In 2003, Western icon Steagall, the official cowboy poet of Texas, joined forces with West Texas Rehabilitation Center to be the national celebrity spokesman, succeeding the late Rex Allen.
"In spite of our own tough times with drought, we want to do what we can to help Rehab help those facing struggles for independence every day," Helmers said. "West Texas Rehab is blessed with longtime supporters, and the management and staff have never taken our loyalty or generosity for granted."
Upcoming Rehab fundraising events include:
- Tuesday, Abilene Auction, Abilene.
Thursday, Producers Livestock Auction, San Angelo.
- Sept. 25-26, Stephenville Cattle Company, Stephenville.
Oct. 15, First Methodist Church Life Center, Junction.
- Oct. 17, Coleman Livestock Auction, Coleman.
Oct. 30-31, Nolan County Annex, 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30; Sweetwater Cattle Auction, Oct. 31.
- Dec. 15, Big Country Christmas Ball, the Coliseum, Snyder.
Since 1953, WTRC, a private, nonprofit organization, has operated outpatient rehabilitation facilities in Abilene, San Angelo and Ozona and treats more than 500 patients daily.
For more information or to make a donation, contact WTRC-Abilene at 325-793-3400 or WTRC-San Angelo at 325-223-6300 or WTRC-Ozona at 325-392-9872.
Read Original Article at the San Angelo Standard Times