When Hill Country Youth Ranch founder Gary Priour saw the amount on the oversized check, he did something quite unexpected — he hopped up and clicked his heels.
On Thursday, the Hill Country Charity Ball presented its largest one-time donation in its history — $152,000.
Standing in front of one of the Hill Country Youth Ranch's oldest and most important buildings — the Harley Beck Community Center — the ball's board of directors presented the check to a delighted staff of the youth ranch.
"This is huge," said Krystle Ramsey, the ranch's executive director. "It's not like we have $150,000 laying around."
Priour told the approximately 20 women, who make up the ball's board of directors, that the state ordered him to build an activity center to offer foster youth residential services when the youth ranch was founded in the 1970s. So, the Harley Beck Community Center was born.
"This is our family hub," Ramsey said. "This is where we have Christmas. Many children have had their first picture with Santa here. At Thanksgiving, we have a family dinner here."
GARY PRIOUR'S JUMP FOR JOY
Founded in 1986, the Hill Country Charity Ball has raised $1.7 million for Kerr County charities and nonprofits in its 34 years. The 2020 ball proved to be the most challenging, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a year's delay, the July 31 ball proved to be 2021's biggest social event, with more than 600 people attending the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
The ball's president, Allison Bueche, had an idea the ball would raise a record amount, but smashing the previous record by nearly $60,000 was stunning.
"We are so grateful," Bueche said. "It was overwhelming."
But now, the money will go to a long list of projects that Ramsey will oversee.
"This is my building," Ramsey said jokingly to Priour, who had a personal hand in designing and building all of the expansive Ingram-based campus.
Ramsey does have big plans to revamp the building. As the first executive director since Priour retired, Ramsey said she's excited to put her touch on the campus.
Most importantly, Ramsey, along with the other staff members, are grateful for the charity ball's efforts.
"I knew this community would show up," Ramsey said.
THE CHARITY BALL'S 10 BIGGEST DONATIONS
- $152,000, 2020, Hill Country Youth Ranch
- $95,000, 2019, Habitat for Humanity
- $82,000, 2008, Kerr County YMCA
- $76,500, 2006, Doyle Community Center
- $73,650, 2005, Special Opportunity Center
- $66,000, 2003, Kerrville Special Operations Unit
- $65,000, 2001, Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital
- $63,700, 2007, Kids' Advocacy Center
- $62,500, 2004, Trail’s West Children’s Gallery at the Museum of Western Art
- $60,000, 2013, Hill Country District Junior Livestock Show