East Texas Angel Network: Local organization helps families of ailing children

 

The East Texas Angel Network has stayed true to its name for more than two decades as an organization that acts as a guardian angel to families in need.

Since it was created 23 years ago, East Texas Angel Network has helped more than 600 families and raised more than $8 million, according to Executive Director Miki Strong.

East Texas Angel Network is a nonprofit organization that financially assists families who have children with serious or life-threatening illnesses. The organization does not pay medical bills. Instead it helps families with secondary expenses, such as rent, utility bills and car payments.

“East Texas Angel Network is such a worthy organization because the money raised here stays here to help those families that truly need it,” said Strong, who has been executive director for the past three years. “We pay directly to the provider of the service instead of distributing cash to the family.”

Strong said all funds raised through the organization are used to help families within a 75-mile radius of Longview. As of June, she said, East Texas Angel Network is assisting about 100 families.

“Not only does East Texas Angel Network provide financial assistance, a food pantry, help providing Christmas, occasional specialty funds, etc., but it becomes an emotional support group for many of the families as they go through the good and bad times that come with having a child with a disability or serious illness,” Strong said.

This fall, the organization will aim to raise at least another $500,000 for area families in need with its annual golf tournament and concert.

Strong’s father, singer Neal McCoy, and his wife, Melinda, founded East Texas Angel Network in 1995. Each year, McCoy and his friends in the entertainment business put on a golf tournament and show for the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. While the 2017 guest list is not yet finalized, fundraisers in prior years have included appearances by Jack Hanna, Bryan White, Tracy Byrd, Lorrie Morgan, Kevin Sharp, Blake Shelton, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and more.

This year’s golf tournament will tee off at 10 a.m. Sept. 29 at Wood Hollow Golf Club in Longview. That evening a sponsor dinner and auction will be held at The Summit Club. On Sept. 30, a breakfast meet and greet for the organization’s “angels” and their families will be held at Papacita’s. Participants also will have the opportunity to meet celebrities and guests in town for the weekend.

“They also get the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals that we have brought in for the event weekend,” Strong said.

The night of Sept. 30 is the big Neal McCoy and Friend’s Benefit Concert at the Belcher Center.

“As always, Neal will be performing with a special guest. We do not have that guest officially nailed down yet, but we promise to announce it as soon as we do,” Strong said.