Azleway hosts Big Ranch Round-Up to fund services, help children - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Azleway hosts Big Ranch Round-Up to fund services, help children


The Azleway Boys' Ranch and Children's Services provide care for children all over the state who have been removed from their homes.

Azleway is holding their Big Ranch Round-Up tonight to raise money for the organization, and one young man sat down with me to tell me how his life completely changed when he came to the Azleway Boys' Ranch 8 months ago because he could no longer live at home.

"I came here and it was kind of a shock and awe thing of, life doesn't have to suck. Life's not the worst thing in the world. There are people out there who really do care about you and who really want to see you succeed," said 17-year old Zac Ryden.

Azleway helps over 1,000 children in the state of Texas every year.

"Many of them have been abused and neglected. They've been abandoned. And a lot of kids have been shuffled from foster home to foster home to foster home throughout the years," said Azleway's Executive Director Gary Duke.

Azleway's goal is to help the kids they see become productive, healthy members of their communities when they leave their care.

"One of the unfortunate realities in the United States is that 80 percent of our current prison population is comprised of former foster children," Duke said.

Zac has received so much help from Azleway that he's decided to pursue a degree in counseling or therapy when he goes to college next year.

"I kind of would like to work at a place like this and help people and make a change in people's lives like people have made a change in my life," he said.

He sees firsthand every day just how important a program like Azleway is for the kids who live at the ranch and use its services.

"Except for here, they don't know what it's like to have a loving family. They don't know what it's like to have people that care about them and have people put an arm over their shoulder and say, 'It's going to be alright. You know, life isn't that bad,'" Zac said.

"We are making a difference in the lives of children. And there is no greater, in my opinion, investment of time, energy, and resources, because these kids are our future," Duke said.

Azleway does receive funding from the state to run their programs, but it costs them $7.50 more per child per day to provide the services they do.

And that's where you come in.

You can attend the Big Ranch Round-Up tonight to meet some of the kids and see what Azleway is doing. there will be dinner, a live and silent auction, and entertainment.

To buy tickets, call Azleway at 903-566-8444, extension 212.

For more information on the services Azleway provides and how you can get involved, visit

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