The 2015 Tyler Cattle Barons' Li'l Wrangler is Shiloh Smith from Lindale. She is the 6-year-old daughter of Amy Shively and has two older siblings.
All who meet Shiloh are greeted by an outgoing, beautiful girl who has experienced a life-threatening illness and grown to be an even stronger child of God. She understands how sick she was almost four years ago and hopes by telling her story that she will inspire other children facing cancer.
"All of my family and Jesus loving me helped me survive," Shiloh said.
When Shiloh was 2 ½ years old, her mother discovered blood in her daughter's underwear and quickly called the pediatrician. Upon examining little Shiloh, Dr. Jennifer Steger was devastated to discover a mass in the toddler's abdomen. The doctor immediately referred Shiloh to an oncologist in Dallas who removed a grapefruit-size Wilm's tumor and one of Shiloh's kidneys.
They diagnosed her with Stage 3 cancer and believed it had spread to her lungs. On Christmas Eve, a call from the doctor became a memorable and incredible Christmas gift for the whole family. Further results had revealed that Shiloh's cancer had not yet progressed to Stage 3, but was the less serious Stage 2.
"The support from the community during this difficult time was overwhelming and greatly appreciated," Amy said. "We felt so blessed by everyone's generosity."
Shiloh received months of chemotherapy to fight the disease.
"We leaned on our faith to get us through this experience," Amy said. "Hope, which is also Shiloh's middle name, became our word of strength because we translated it to mean ‘having only positive expectations.'"
Today, Shiloh is an active, happy first-grader who loves riding horses, swimming and gardening. She cares for lambs that stay at the school where her big brother is a teacher and the FFA sponsor.
On May 2, Cattle Barons' Gala committee will host the Li'l Wrangler event at Fire Mountain Amusements in Tyler. Area pediatric cancer patients and their guests will be treated to an afternoon of fun.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Texas. Each day, hundreds of Texans are diagnosed with cancer; one out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. The American Cancer Society seeks to eliminate cancer as a major health issue through research, prevention, education, advocacy and service.
As the third largest Cattle Barons' Gala (following Dallas and Houston) in Texas, this annual event raises money to benefit the American Cancer Society. The gala is set for June 13 at Harvey Convention Center in Tyler.
Since Tyler's first Gala in 1988, thousands of volunteers have raised over $10 million for cancer research, education and patient services.
The Li'l Wrangler event sponsors include John and Margaret Moss, Richie Moss, East Texas Seed Company, Tyler Fire Fighter CARE and Dawn and Harry Leatherwood.
Those interested in supporting Tyler Cattle Barons' Gala can contact Gala Co-chairs, Suzie Rippy or Jennifer Gaston at 903-952-1548.