Pastor David Cole of Cross Trails Cowboy Church sat in his wheelchair as he smiled and shook hands with individuals who attended the Cowboy Connect fundraiser to help those in need.

May 12 altered Cole's life when he had a massive stroke, which hindered the use of his ride side and restricted his speech, vision and other severe complications.

This Cole family is the backbone as well as the leadership of the Orange Grove community church. The church serves a 25-mile radius that includes Alice, Mathis, Lake Corpus Christi, Calallen and San Patricio County.

The event was held on July 21 and 22 at San Patricio County fairgrounds to create The Benevolent Fund to aid all the members of the community whose needs range from difficult to devastating financial woes. 

Cowboy Connect is an event spearheaded by church leadership members, Michelle & Scott Knight, Jimmy & Gracie Trees, Randy & Tracie Palmer, Wayne & Pam Walthrip, Randy & Natosha Startezell, Cassie DeReese, Crystal Parker and Carol Martin.

The activities included an IBCA barbecue cook-off with generous cash prizes, Boot Scootin Barn Dance and Dinner, Car Show and Team Roping with other arena events. A live Calcutta Auction on Friday night, Live Auction Saturday during the Dinner, and also a silent auction during the day on Saturday also took place.

Lots of items up for bid like guns, jewelry, original artwork, trips and custom built mesquite furniture were auctioned off with thousands raised. 

Live Music was provided by Texas Crossing on Friday July 21st and Saturday night during the Boot Scootin Barn Dinner & Dance, they had Branded with David Washington, local artist Ritchie Albright and Nate Rodriguez.

The two-day fund raising effort raised about $50,000, organizers said.