(Seguin) -- Youth from all over the state of Texas have more than a quarter of a million reasons to smile -- and it is all thanks to a local non-profit organization. The Wade Busby Memorial promotes and supports youth involved in agricultural activities, like 4-H and FFA. Each year the Wade Busby Memorial hosts a fundraising event in the KC Hall in Seguin.
Mark Cerda is president of the Wade Busby Memorial, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The fundraiser started small in 2005, but over the years its organizers have seen it grow and grow. Cerda says he was a little bit concerned that they might not see that same kind of growth this year. He says all signs early on suggested that things would slow down a bit this year.
"We started setting the event up on Friday, (October 16). We had the auction items set up, silent auction and on Friday night, I'm sitting there and we were talking to (Wade Busby Memorial Secretary) Laurie (Leach). She goes 'what do you think we're going to do?' I said, 'well with oil prices down, the economy is kind of stressed a little bit, I think we'll do $170s to maybe $180,000.' She said, 'yeah, you know I feel the same way.' On Saturday, (October 17) when people started coming in, you could feel the energy. I knew we were going to do good and I figured we hit that number $180,000," said Cerda.
Kids (above) from the Youth Show show off their Wade Busby Memorial t-shirts. Right is a photo of Wade Busby. courtesy photos
Cerda was right about the energy in the room that night, and he was right that they would hit $180,000, but what he didn't know was that the fundraising wouldn't stop there.
"After the fifth item, the auction really took off. You could tell, 'man this is going good', I didn't know how good. I just was up there selling the stuff and having fun. When I'm selling the last item, Laurie is usually ready with a number. She'll walk up to the stage and write down whatever the last item was that I sold, add it to the total, and give me the paper. She gave me the paper and I looked at it, I said, 'can I borrow your glasses'. Instead of giving me her glasses, she wrote it down real big. The number that night was $254,685, and that was before we reconciled the credit cards and stuff. Two days later after all the numbers were in, we hit $265,000," said Cerda.
Cerda says they were shocked, but pleased to see the amazing support that was again being shown to the organization. He says people believe in the organization's mission to help children. He says people also want to honor Wade's memory. Wade Busby was actively involved in 4H and FFA for many years. He died unexpectantly more than a decade ago at the age of 30, and folks like Cerda, Lance Bielke, Laurie Leach, Darlene Busby and others have been working to remember Wade and to remember the causes that were important to him.
"Last year, our goal was to hit $200,000 on the 10th anniversary. Man, we did that and I didn't think we'd ever be able to do that again. I attribute the success to this organization is because we live by the motto that we set when we first started this organization. Our mission was to keep Wade's dream alive of supporting youth involved in agriculture. Hundreds and hundreds of friends and family and now we have people that ain't no way that want to be part of this program, because it's such a huge success. They know that when they donate money to this organization, 100 percent of the proceeds go back to the kids in forms of buying their projects or scholarships," said Cerda.
Cerda says their extraordinary success has taken them all a little bit by surprise. They say the response from the community has been exceptional, and they're very thankful for the support.
"In our 10 years of doing this, we have supported youth in agriculture with $777,000 in forms of project support and scholarships. After the 2016 stockshows are over and scholarships are awarded, we will be over $1 million in support to area youth involved in agriculture. All I can say is that's attributed to the love and support that we get from our supporters and donors," said Cerda.
Cerda says they always thought they'd be able to raise some money to help support some of the kids in Guadalupe County, who participate in the Guadalupe County Youth Livestock and Homemakers Show. He says they've not only helped kids here locally, but they also are able to touch the lives of children from all over the region, and in some cases from all over the state.
"We support (youth shows in)Guadalupe County, Bexar County, Comal County, Wilson County, La Vernia and the San Antonio stockshow. So through our involvement at San Antonio stockshow, we are touching kids throughout the state of Texas. It's not just in the local area. We have broadened our reach to kids all over the state," said Cerda.
Cerda says they are already making plans for next year's event. The Wade Busby Memorial provides financial support to students who raise livestock or show other qualifying projects through their participation in FFA and 4H clubs, and who exhibit them at livestock shows in the area. The organization also awards college scholarships to graduating high school seniors.