Legends of the Call: East Texans celebrate 3 decades of fighting cancer with annual Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala

Published on Saturday, 12 August 2017 20:43 - Written by AUGUSTA ROBINSON, augustarobinson@tylerpaper.com

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Jerry Woolverton’s fight against cancer began before he was diagnosed with the disease nine years ago.

Woolverton, of Lindale, has attended the annual Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala for about 15 years and has been instrumental in helping raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

While at the 30th Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala with his wife, Kelley, Woolverton said he once again enjoyed gathering with friends to both have fun and support the fight against cancer.

“My favorite thing about coming is just all the people, friends, all united to fight one bad thing, and that’s the big C - cancer,” he said. “Tonight is an event that celebrates those who have been victorious against it, but also those that continue to fight…”

Tim Haugh, of Flint, and vice president of American State Bank - which provided the gala’s headlining entertainer, Trace Adkins - said the bank supported the event because of its great cause.

“It’s just a great way for us to give back to our community and try to help out,” he said.

Hundreds gathered at Tyler Rose Horse Park and Brunson Equestrian Center on Saturday evening to celebrate the 30th Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala and once again raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

For 2017, Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala co-chairs Darla Childress, of Tyler, and Debra Smith, of Whitehouse, their work helping make the gala run smoothly was very personal. Both have had close relatives who have battled the disease.

Childress and Smith’s choice to make “Legends of the Call” the theme for this year’s gala came out of a desire to honor all those who have fought and are fighting cancer.

“They are truly legends in our eyes, the way they just battle and fight,” Childress said. “I met a man the other day who has had cancer that’s reoccurred 10 times, but he doesn’t give up.”

Smith said she considers everyone who is helping fight against cancer to be warriors and hopes those who currently have the disease know they are not alone.

“Whether you give money, whether you give time or whether you have been through it, we are all warriors together,” she said. “We all play a different part in this huge war.”

The theme also honored those who have answered the call to fight against cancer during the gala’s 30 years of existence in Tyler.

Those at the event enjoyed a variety of food, Vegas-style casino gaming, both a silent and live auction and live music.

Event organizers said they were able to sell all 1,500 tickets for the event. The total amount of money raised from this year’s gala is still being calculated, but it will be announced soon. Last year’s fundraising efforts raised $451,123.

Since the Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala began, organizers said the event has raised more than $14 million for the American Cancer Society of Tyler.

Both Childress and Smith said they hoped the event served as a celebration of the brave fight that is being waged in the war to end cancer and encouraged those who are still personally fighting the disease.

“I want to give them hope that there are still people that are on the battlefield,” Smith said.