Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Traveling Circus Learns About the Big Oak Ranch

John Croyle, a football player at the University of Alabama under the leadership of Paul “Bear” Bryant, was looking at the opportunity to play professional football or start a children’s home. Croyle, along with his wife, Tee, made the decision to open a children’s home and established the Big Oak Boys’ Ranch in 1974 in Gadsden.

The Big Oak Girls’ Ranch, founded in 1988, was established in memory of a 12-year old girl who was beaten to death by her parents. Croyle tried to convince the judge to let the young girl come to the Boys’ Ranch but the judge returned to child to her parents even though she had been physically and sexually abused by her father. Three months after pleading to take the child, she was dead.

In 1990, Westbrook Christian School was acquired. It is the source of education for the Ranch children as well as children from the local community. Tuition, fundraising events and contributions fund the school.

If you are interested in learning more about the Big Oak Ranch or to make a donation, please go to for more information.

On Thursday, October 21, the Big Oak Ranch held their gala at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Over 50 tables, each prepared for 10 guests, filled East 3 Exhibit Hall East. Following dinner, John Croyle spoke about the Ranch, introducing a young couple who spent their youth at the Ranch. These two young adults who met at the Ranch, were educated at the expense of the Ranch, and later had their marriage blessed in a wedding provided by the Ranch, were a testament to the success the Ranch has experienced over the years. The basic premise is one of family and Christian values.

Following the speakers and short videos, Taylor Hicks and his band took the stage to entertain the guests. There was plenty of applause and cheers for each song, and several songs had the guests on their feet. One of the favorites was “Nineteen”. Taylor’s set lasted about an hour and included such favorites as “What’s Right is Right”, “Maybe You Should”, “Seven Mile Breakdown”, and “Takin’ it to the Streets”.

Pictures from the event

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PurpleButterflies said...

That is so heartbreaking about the child who was returned to her parents and then killed. Hey Miss Mandy. Fall is upon us. Let's go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade again. That was so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful info and photos, as usual! Thanks so much for your insight and generousity in sharing....


Judy said...

Mandy, Loved your article and all the wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing. Did you share a table with Allison?
Judy Morton

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the story behind Big Oak Ranch. The story of the girl who lost her life is indeed heartbreaking and happens too often. Equally sad that the judge was the one to make a decision that cost her life.
I am sure that Taylor and the band were honored to entertain and to speak to the kids.
Glad you got to go, Mandy.


Louise4Tay said...

Thanks Mandy for the information about the charity behind this event. I loved your pictures, too!

Anonymous said...

I originally read the "reason behind " Big Oak Ranch and posted it on Connections when this event was first announced. I was so glad to hear that Taylor actually went to the ranch and had a "hands-on" day with the children.

Being a spokesman for a charity is something that many "celebrities" do, but do they actually know what is happening with these charities? Taylor keeps his involvement on a personal level and always seems to get "his hands dirty" when giving of himself for a charitable cause.

Many thanks Rags for bringing this story to the "googling public".


Lanaesgifts said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos with us Mandy ! The Big Oak Ranch is a wonderful organization and I'm so glad that people all over the country are now finding out about it.
So glad you were able to make it to this event !


KarinP said...

The efforts of John & Tee Croyle in helping children is a phenomenal story. It is heartbreaking to hear about the 12 year old girl. It must have been a rewarding experience for Taylor and his band to be involved in this Gala.

Thank you, Mandy for sharing the background of the ranch as well as your pictures. I hope that a lot of money was raised at the Gala so that the Croyles can continue their incredible work of helping those who so desperately need a helping hand.

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