(Seguin) -- When it comes to the annual Wade Busby Memorial Casino Night, it appears as though there still isn't another more successful fundraising event in Guadalupe County. Not only has the event in 13 years, raised more than $1.2 million but tickets to the fundraising event are typically sold out days even weeks in advance.
Mark Cerda, one of the founding partners for the memorial organization, says he looks forward to again remembering his friend during this year's fundraiser. The event, which also includes live and silent auctions, is scheduled from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Columbus Club Hall of Seguin.
"It started in 2005 when Wade Busby -- he (was) my best friend -- he passed away in his sleep and he was one that was always wanting to help kids in agriculture just like when we were showing, how we received lots of help and support. He wanted to give that back. We started buying projects, I guess, right when we graduated high school. He opened a feed store in New Berlin. So he continued buying projects. He bought to support kids at La Vernia, Comal, Seguin, San Antonio Stock Show, pretty much where we're going now," said Cerda.
Cerda says after that initial year, the momentum for the fundraiser has just been incredible.
"So when Wade died, we were kicking around the idea, 'man, we can't just let his memory die. He's such a good guy.' So we came up with a plan of having a casino night to raise money to go down and buy projects at the youth show. We thought we'd raise $10,000 maybe or whatever. First year, we did. We raised a little over $11,000 and spent every dime of it down there on the kids. Well, people saw what we were doing. The next year, our event just grew and grew and today or last year, our one night event raised of $270,000 and 100 percent of that money goes back to the kids. So from 2005 until 2017, we just finished the stock shows -- we have provided $1.2 million in support to over 4,700 4-H and FFA students throughout the state of Texas in forms of buying their projects, scholarships, the whole nine yards," said Cerda.
Cerda says he thanks those who continue to challenge the event -- raising more money than the year before.
"Never in our wildest dreams, did we think that it would become this size, this magnitude and to be able to touch as many kids as we're touching -- it's incredible, absolutely incredible. The support that we get is phenomenal. I get asked all the time, how do you do it? How do you do it? I don't know. I do know that when we go into the event, we put in 100 percent of what we have into this deal to try to make it successful. I mean people line up and buy tickets and donate items and show up for the auction and it's just an amazing event," said Cerda.
Cerda says the group awards the proceeds at livestock shows in Guadalupe and surrounding counties such as Comal, Wilson and Bexar. Scholarships are also extended to those youth in these areas.
He says what might make the Wade Busby Memorial even more incredible is the way that the money is awarded and distributed among the youth.
"We try to support those that support us, but at the same time, our main focus is to try to help those kids that don't have anybody helping them. That's what Wade would be real proud of is that we have tried to focus on those kids that go up there and aren't bringing the same amount of money somebody else with an equal project is bringing. So, we'll try to make sure that that kid is going to get the same or close to the same kind of dollars. At the same time, what we try to do is budget our money so that at the end of the deal, at the end of the show, that we can go in there and we can say, okay, the steers didn't bring enough money -- we want them all to bring $2,000 -- (and) we may partner with a partner, let's say Seguin Cattle Company or something and we'll bring all the steers up to a certain level or we may bring all the pigs and goats and lambs up to a certain dollar amount so that those kids feel that they have accomplished something. They're going up there and they're working just as hard as somebody else, but they're not bringing the same kind of money. We want to kind of give them a little boost to help them along too," said Cerda.
Cerda says the money raised over the years has definitely not only supported the kids but has done its job in keeping his friend's memory alive.
"They do know who we are now and one thing that Wade's mom said, that she reminded me not too long ago -- that Wade always said 'one of these days people are going to know who I am' and little did we know there's people all over the state of Texas who know the Wade Busby name. It's just phenomenal," said Cerda.
Cerda says Busby's support for kids and agriculture is unmatched and is more evident now than it has ever been before.
"Wade was a very caring, big hearted person. He'd give the shirt off his back to help anybody, always. He was always willing to help somebody in need. That's probably the biggest thing that I would like for people to remember," said Cerda.
Tickets are $75 each and include dinner and casino chips. Doors open at 5 p.m. followed by dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and casino games from 7 to 10 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at Wells Fargo Bank or by calling Cerda at 830-305-3861 or Darlene Busby at 210-827-1832. Cash donations can also simply be mailed to the Wade Busby Memorial at P.O. Box 736 Marion, Texas 78124.