By SALLY SEXTON
Businessmen, community members and general supporters of children came out to attend the third annual Saddle Up for Kids dinner and auction, held Wednesday night at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse.
While raising money to help support the Parker County Child Protective Services board was the main goal, attendees had the option to purchase celebrity tables at a little higher cost, and eat dinner and socialize with prominent figures within the county.
Celebrities hosting tables included Betty Buckley, a Grammy and Emmy-nominated television, stage and screen star; Barry Corbin, a movie and television actor; Alex Cord, known for his spaghetti westerns; Don Edwards, a Grammy-nominated singer and guitarist; Larry Fowler, Parker County sheriff; Robert Fuller, a stunt man and television actor; Walt Garrison, a former Dallas Cowboy; painter and sculptor Bruce Greene; Ron Hall, guest speaker and writer; radio show host Bob Kingsley; Anne Lochart, television actress and expert horsewoman; and Dan Roberts, country singer and songwriter.
Auctioneer Ben Emison followed up the steak-and-potatoes dinner, auctioning off several donated items, including furniture, jewelry, gift certificates, sporting tickets and a seven-day New Mexico retreat. With several bidders encouraging Emison to throw items back after pledging an amount, the auction ended up raising more than $9,000.
“There are a lot of kids that are in need of support in Parker County,” Red Steagall, one of the main speakers of the event, said. “This event is all about neighbors helping neighbors.”
The Parker County Child Welfare Board offers its services to children who are disadvantaged and come into the care of CPS. The welfare board helps out by providing financial assistance to caregivers for supplies and essential needs, helps allow children to participate in extracurricular activities and events and guarantees children with the CPS system gifts at Christmas and on birthdays.
“We are all volunteers and this is the hardest working organization that I’ve ever been a part of,” Cresenta Wusterhausen, president of the welfare board, said.
Since September of last year, there have been almost 1,200 intakes following investigations by CPS in Parker County, with around 52 children removed from homes due to abuse or neglect. As of March, there were 107 children in the custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services in the county.
“Abuse and neglect are rampant in Parker County and we average about 17 investigations per month,” Morgan Ervin, a Parker County investigative specialist, said. “Neglect is one of the biggest causes, but substance and sexual abuse are also realities for our children.”