Spirit of Giving
by Anne-Kathleen KregerFifty-four years ago, San Antonio held its first rodeo in the brand-new Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum. A quarter of a million visitors attended, an unheard of record for an opening show. Among this massive crowd was an energetic young boy from the small town of Lytle, Texas. He didnít know then what a huge impact this rodeo experience would have on him.
Six years later, this same young boy returned to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, this time as an exhibitor, to show the lambs he had worked so hard to raise.
Since this day in 1956, much about the San Antonio Livestock Exposition (SALE) has changed. The musical talent of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers has been replaced by that of Garth Brooks and Clay Walker. Attendance has quadrupled, soaring to more than one million visitors. The SBC Center has become the rodeoís new home.
Despite these changes, one thing has remained the same. SALE has kept its focus on good, old-fashioned family fun and the betterment of Texas youth in agriculture. Extraordinary leadership has kept these values at the heart of the Stock Show and Rodeo.
And the young boy with the prize-winning lambs - Keith Martin - has been an invaluable visionary in preserving SALEís past as well as looking toward the future.
As SALEís executive director and chief executive officer, Martin oversees more than 4,000 volunteers who have helped raise $22.2 million in educational scholarships, grants and endowments.
Two decades ago, SALE initiated its scholarship program with financial awards
for 15 Texas college students pursuing agricultural careers. To date, SALE has awarded nearly 3,000 scholarships to students pursuing higher education.
This past spring, SALE expanded its scholarship program by donating $240,000
to the Health Science Center for scholarships for medical and nursing students who intend to practice in rural areas.
"Farms and ranches are located in remote agricultural communities, where it is often difficult to get medical care," Martin said. "We want to do what we can to ensure that medical care is available to all Texans - including those in more rural areas."
Dr. Cigarroa echoed this concern. "The Health Science Center has a mandate to
serve not only San Antonio but all of South Texas," he said. "Part of our mission is to fill the need for medical professionals in underserved areas, and these SALE scholarships will help us to do just that."
"The whole reason we are able to give these scholarships is our hardworking, dedicated family of volunteers," Martin added.
The Health Science Center salutes Keith Martin and all the SALE volunteers
for providing higher education opportunities for Texas students and a healthier future for all Texans.
UT Health Science Center
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