Local grads give back

Taylor grads, Gerald Anderson and Evelyn Waiwaiole, have partnered to write a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant for the Bill Pickett Educational Foundation to fund a summer youth camp. They are shown with a poster of the famous cowboy from Taylor. Photo by Tim Crow

Taylor graduates, Gerald Anderson and Evelyn Nelson-Waiwaiole, have partnered for a special project to give back to Taylor youth. Anderson is the founder of the Bill Pickett Educational Foundation, and Nelson-Waiwaiole has partnered with him to write a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant for the foundation to fund a summer youth camp.

“One evening at home I was looking at Facebook and just happened to see some of the work that Gerald was doing,” Nelson-Waiwaiole said. “He posted that he had taken fifty kids from Taylor to the Nutcracker who may not otherwise have the opportunity, and he is making that opportunity for them.”

Waiwaiole said she remembers sitting at her desk, her eyes filling with tears as she read about the opportunities Anderson was providing for Taylor kids.

“I messaged to him right then and there, ‘You make me proud to be from Taylor’.” Nelson-Waiwaiole said. “’And I wanted to help’.”

Anderson and Nelson-Waiwaiole partnered to write the $10,000 grant for the Bill Pickett Educational Foundation. Then they began looking for donors to fulfill the required one-to-one match. By Jan. 29, the match had been met, and later surpassed, in time for the grant deadline.

Anderson is part of the Pickett family. His grandmother, Willie B. Royal, was named after Bill Pickett, and the family has lived on the same property since the 1880s. Anderson said his grandmother made sure the family knew about Bill Pickett, and he has worked to continue that legacy.

“It wasn’t for the name recognition of Bill Pickett,” Anderson said. “It was for us to have pride in the family name, and to go out and try to be successful and try to do things to help other people.”

Bill Pickett invented Bulldogging (steer wrestling) by biting the animal on the lip to subdue it. He traveled with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, performing for the president of the United States, the president of Mexico and the king and queen of England. The local legend also starred in a silent movie about himself and was honored with his photo on a US postage stamp. He was inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1972.

Anderson’s work with youth began years ago when he started an athletic club for his nephew and his nephew’s friends.

“One day I came in from work and my nephew and his friends were just sitting around the house doing nothing, looking at TV,” Anderson said.

With a full size gym in the shed, Anderson told the group to there by 8:00am the next morning for breakfast and a workout.

“On any given day we would have 20 to 25 kids in there,” Anderson said. “It became the thing to do in the summer time, so we called it the Eastside athletic club and bought them t-shirts.”

Anderson said he took 44 girls and six chaperones to see “The Nutcracker.” The Texas Parks and Wildlife grand, along with the matching funds, will help him continue to provide opportunities for local youth through the Bill Pickett Educational Foundation. Specifically, this grant money will fund Camp Life, a summer program with several field trips planned.

“He’s been doing this camp for a long time, and has been doing this from donations on a shoestring budget,” Nelson-Waiwaiole said. “With this grant they will be able to go to three state parks.”

“We’re taking them to McKinney Park for a day trip, we’re taking them to Bastrop for an overnight trip, and then we’re taking them down to Galveston to the beach and to a fishery sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife,” Anderson said. “We will also do horseback riding, fishing, health and fitness.”

Anderson said he plans to continue the summer camps in the future with the hope that participants will come back when they are older and continue to give back to Taylor.

The Bill Pickett Educational Foundation is accepting donations to help fund continuing programs for Taylor’s youth. For more information on making a tax-deductible donation, please contact Gerald Anderson at gtataylor@yahoo.com, or at 512-269-8270.

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