Weatherford Democrat

Aledo ExtrA

May 26, 2014

Hats Off to Heroes raises more than $84,000 for Careity Foundation

WEATHERFORD — By BRIAN SMITH

The Careity Foundation honored area heroes — including Aledo ISD’s Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tim Buchanan — and raised more than $84,000 in the process Tuesday night.

The 3rd Annual Hats off to Heroes event packed the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse building in Weatherford and honored 36 people for giving back to the community.

Buchanan, who has guided the Bearcats to five state championships since 1998, was honored by Moritz Dealerships.

“Tim Buchanan has been a catalyst in the growth of Aledo and Parker County,” said Jim Hardick, who chose the honoree. “As a role model he has helped create a dynamic, family-oriented community.

“‘No’ is not in his vocabulary when it comes to giving back to our community, especially our youth. He is always careful to give credit to those around him. His success is their success.”

Several military members were honored, including U.S. Marine Marcus Burleson who spent 12 years in the service before being nearly killed while trying to diffuse an IED. He was forced to have both arms amputated, suffered a broken neck, lost vision completely in his left eye and suffered severe nerve damage to his left arm, which left it paralyzed among other injuries.

Since the injury in December 2011, he has dedicated his time to research and outreach with veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also works as a program manager with the Boot campaign, a non-profit which raises money for a military recovery fund for urgent assistance for veterans. He received a standing ovation for his efforts.

People of all ages were honored, including 10-year-old Hayden Head, a neuroblastoma survivor who has raised more than $20,000 for the Careity Foundation through a personal donation of several hugs. Head was the Careity Youth Volunteer of the Year in 2013.

Another youth honored was Weatherford High senior Gabriella Ruiz-Reyes. She was found to have two brain tumors when she was just six years old. After two years of chemo treatments, her cancer was in remission in 2004. She is active in student government and other activities like the Careity Foundation, but her real passion is dance.

“After she was diagnosed, the community was so wonderful and helpful,” Gabi’s mother, Mary Ruiz-Reyes said in the event program. “Gabi wanted to give back and help in any way she could.”

A few of the honorees were honored posthumously, including founding member of the Parker County SWAT team Al Jones and former county judge and county democratic chair Gabe T. Vick.

Many of the stories told were inspiring, including that of Norma Plowman, owner of Galbreaith-Pickard Funeral Chapel. She was discovered to have early stage breast cancer earlier this year and is now a breast cancer survivor.

Co-Founder Lyn Walsh said it has taken an army to accomplish what the group has over the last 12 years, but through sponsorships, donations and a host of volunteers, the Careity Foundation works to assist those with cancer with partnerships with the Center of Cancer and Blood Disorders, Center for Woman’s Health, Weatherford Regional Medical Center and Parker County Health Foundation, which helped provide 500 mammograms through its annual Pink Luncheon.

Other heroes honored included: Sandy Haydon, George and Amy Mercer, Danie Huffman and Joe Harris, Sr., Tammy Gazzola, Rick Campbell, Wolfram Blattner, Melvin Woody, L.P. Ladoceur, Phillip Hoy, Jan Barton, Ed Kramer, Jim Wright, Drs. Sanjay Oomen, David DeSpain and Ray Page.

Others honored were Charlie McClain, Bill and Pat Gilbert, Bob and Nan Kingsley, Gail Fowler, Lee Wreyford, Dr. Gary Grote, Kenneth Hanson, Marcy Reilly, Roger Grizzard and Wanda Yeats.

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