Lending a Helping Hand

Posted on May 3, 2017 by Kirsten Holder in

On March 6, 2017, demoralizing fires consumed the Western Plains, scarring more than 800,000 acres of precious land in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. At times, the fires moved at more than 80 mph in what has become one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history.

In the days and weeks to follow, it was difficult to see through the smoke and ashy remains of what used to be one of the most unscathed and serene parts of our country. One thing is certain – it didn’t take long to turn the destruction into determination.

Famed Western singer/songwriter R.W. Hampton and his wife Lisa Hampton immediately thought of a way to alleviate the damage and support for those who needed it most. After visiting several families who were directly affected by the fires, the Hampton’s hosted a fundraising event that had never been done before.

Out of the Ashes 2017 was the first-ever online concert broadcasted directly through Facebook Live. On April 29 and 30, 2017, more than 15 Western artists devoted their time, hearts, and passion for music to help raise money for those affected by the fires. The artists included Aaron Watson, Chad Prather, Corb Lund, Michael Martin Murphy, Mary Kaye, and others.

“Before the fire was even over, I was having calls from people in Oklahoma wondering what I needed and making sure that we were OK,” said Britt Hilton, a rancher and volunteer firefighter. “We’ve had people come from Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and more. The people came in convoys of trucks – sometimes 10, sometimes 50.”

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, many of those who contributed countless days to the restoration and renewal of the plains vouched to remain anonymous.

“They don’t want recognition for it; they just said, ‘We’re here, take it, go on,’” said Sy Brown, a rancher and volunteer fire chief. “We asked who it was from, and most of it was anonymous.”

John Erickson, author of “Hank the Cow Dog,” lost his home in the fire; he was wearing the same clothes he escaped the fire in while visiting with Museum staff. Instead of telling a story of defeat, we heard stories of hope and the generosity of others.

“There was a massive outpouring of love and sympathy from people all over the United States,” said Erickson.

Although the fires have come and gone, the stories they awaken will never be forgotten. The West has been, and always will be, full of hope, resiliency, strength, and community.

Click here to view additional interviews from families affected by the March 2017 fires.



This article is sponsored by Legacy Planning Partners, LLC. Legacy Planning was founded with the goal of assisting clients in every aspect of their financial lives. Click here to learn more.





About Kirsten

Kirsten is the Digital Marketing Manager at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.