The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team. Oil-related corporate sponsors have cut their donations to the organization due to the economic slowdown and the organization’s annual fundraiser was canceled.
Funds are quickly dwindling that make it possible for Texas EquuSearch Founder Tim Miller and his army of volunteers to continue searching for lost loved ones.
“It’s been a struggle this year,” Miller said. “We rely on donations and a few corporate sponsors to keep our operation going. Because of the virus, the people and companies that normally help us are unable to help this year.”
Operating on a shoestring budget that is buoyed by Miller’s own time and equipment, Texas EquuSearch normally helps law enforcement and families with around 100 cases per year. Of those, more than half involve boots-on-the-ground searches.
“Last week we were in Llano and in the coming days we are going to be searching for the missing soldier from the Houston area,” Miller said. “With law enforcement and the volunteers, we join together for one cause. We have been blessed to have such dedicated volunteers, but we are struggling right now. I don’t want to ever be on the phone with a family and have to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, we cannot help you.'”
Miller knows the agony of losing a family member. He started Texas EquuSearch in 2000, 16 years after his own daughter, Laura, was abducted and kidnapped in League City, Texas. Miller was upset that more effort wasn’t being put into finding her killer, so he made it his life’s work to find the person who killed her and help other families undergoing the same torment of not knowing the location of their loved ones.
Understanding the good work of Texas EquuSearch, Bill and Tammie Wingfield, owners of Maci Feed Store in Hardin, have organized an Aug. 1 fundraiser to help Texas EquuSearch continue its efforts.
The Wingfields met Miller at the Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet in February. Tammie said they admired Miller’s passion for Texas EquuSearch, so when they learned that the organization was struggling, they knew they had to get involved.
“We love the cause. Their motto is ‘Lost is not alone,’ which is absolutely heartwarming. We cannot be the boots on the ground in the searches, so we are trying to do the next best thing – raise money so that other people can be. I am better served doing this,” Tammie said.
The event will be held on Aug. 1 at the Trinity Valley Exposition fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 1. A fish fry will begin at 5 p.m. and will be followed by live and silent auctions, and a dance featuring the Brett Mullins Band.
The cost per ticket is $20 for the fish fry and dance. For another $10 per ticket, the meal can include beers. The dance will begin at 8 p.m.
Fish Tales in Hardin – owned by Brent McManus and Paul and Kim Wolfe – will be frying up the fish, French fries and hush puppies. Sweets, Treats and More in Hardin – owned by April Spurlock – is providing the desserts.
Raffle tickets for a chance to win a four-wheeler are being sold for $20. Only 800 of the tickets will be sold. The drawing will be held during the event.
The auction items so far include a steak cooker, fire pit and a Smith and Wesson .308. Tammie said that more items are needed for the silent and live auctions. Contact Maci Feed Store at 936-298-9404 to arrange a donation for the auctions.
To purchase tickets for the fish fry, stop by the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce office at 1801 Trinity St., Liberty, Maci Feed Store at 10769 Highway 146 in Hardin or the TVE office at 321 Wallisville Rd., Liberty.