SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Comedian Bill Engvall has seen the sign, and now he and his entire family have made a lifelong commitment to helping young people with cancer.
The star of the No.1 selling comedy album in 1997, Here’s Your Sign, recalls that his interest in the Sunshine Kids was sparked first by his co-star on The Jeff Foxworthy Show, G. W. Bailey. Bailey serves as national spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, a national, non-profit, volunteer organization, based in Houston, which provides positive growth activities for young people with cancer. Bailey invited a group of Sunshine Kids to the set of the prime-time television show to meet members of the cast and crew. Although he was enamored with that group of children, the idea to get involved with the organization didn’t come until later, after several lengthy and enthusiastic discussions about the organization with his pal Bailey.
“G. W. told me in one conversation that the thing these kids need is a camp that they can go to, and I never got that out of my head,” Engvall explained.
“My wife Gail, and I have been looking for a charity that deals with children and thought this was a great chance for me and our family, which includes my daughter Emily, 12, and my son Travis, 7, to give back some of the blessings that have been bestowed on us,” he continued.
“My wife and I are both from Texas, and one of the dreams I’ve always had was to have a little ranch -- about 500-600 acres,” he explained. “So it is my dream to eventually have my own place and build a barracks or a bunkhouse on it so the Sunshine Kids can come out and spend a week. We could cook out and go horseback riding or whatever they wanted to do.
“This is a lifetime commitment for us financially and physically,” he added. “Once we are involved we are involved full force.”
Although plans for the ranch cannot be realized for another 5-10 years, the Engvalls are not waiting to start their association with the organization. In fact, Bill and Gail will visit the Sunshine Kids during their Texas Hill Country Adventure, scheduled for June 13-21 in San Marcos and throughout Central Texas.
Despite Engvall’s enthusiastic plans for the bunkhouse and ranch, his deep desire is there to be no need for such a facility, he said. Comedian Engvall adopts the Sunshine Kids “The greatest thing in the world for me will be when there are no more Sunshine Kids and we don’t have to have such an organization because they have found a cure for cancer. But until then we will make the most of the time we have together.
“For now I just want to be a guy that they can’t wait to see,” he said.
“I want to get to know each one of them personally. I am totally excited about this.” During their eight-day visit to Central Texas as guests of the City of San Marcos and Southwest Texas State University, the Sunshine Kids will meet with Gov. George W. Bush and members of the Texas Legislature and visit the Imax Theater, the Alamo, Hard Rock Cafe and Sea World of Texas, as well as Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, the Sunrise Exotic Ranch in Dripping Springs, University Camp in Wimberley and the Canyon Lake Marina.
For more information about the Sunshine Kids, contact Fred March at (512) 245-2147 or Patti Wenk at (512) 245-2180.