EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY— The first “Biggest Buck Contest” ended this week and the winner was bow hunter from Splendora. The contest’s sponsors, Precinct 4’s Judge James Metts and Constable Rowdy Hayden, Ricky Overall, of Overall Taxidermy in New Caney, and Wayne and Faye Sitton, of Sitton’s Quick Stop in Splendora met with the top scoring hunter, Larry Jackson, on Tuesday at the East Montgomery Courthouse in New Caney.
Jackson said the prize winning rack was his first kill worth mounting in his 34 years as a bow hunter. According to the Boone and Crockett scoring system, Jackson’s overall score was a 157 4/8. Ricky Overall, who accepted the entries at his taxidermy shop, said there were quite a few, but Jackson’s was the only deer killed with a bow.
Jackson received a $750 check from the Judge and Constable to go toward a rifle; 40 sacks of deer corn from Sitton’s; and a free shoulder mount by Overall’s Taxidermy.
While Jackson was thrilled with the prizes he received, he already knew he was a winner. Mr. Jackson is a two time cancer survivor and received a stem cell transplant two years ago during a bout with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Looking at Jackson today, it is hard to imagine he has cheated death twice, and he gives God all the credit. Jackson and his wife, Jenny, founded “Hope Cancer Retreat,” a non-profit organization that provides a comfortable, free-of-charge place for MD Anderson cancer patients to stay when they are away from home for treatment.
The Jacksons say they felt led by God to create the retreat after meeting so many other patients during Larry Jackson’s treatment and realizing those patients did not have a serene place to escape during their treatment, but were stuck in motels and wherever they could find and afford. In the midst of their tribulation, they found a reason to feel fortunate. They could leave MD Anderson and drive about 40 minutes to their peaceful home in East Montgomery County.
“We met so many people from out of town and out of the country, and we realized all these people had to find a place to stay for months at a time, in addition to what they’re dealing with,” Larry Jackson said. “You’re wiped out financially, emotionally and not knowing whether you’re going to live or die.”
Jackson knows that feeling well, because in October of 2002, he was given 12 weeks to live. The Jacksons believe he was spared so they could help give hope to others, which is why they named their facility “Hope Cancer Retreat.”
The retreat was founded in 2005 and is located in Splendora. It consists of four differently themed cottages with all the comforts of home. Each cottage has a refrigerator, microwave, stove, linens, two televisions, DVD players, Wi-Fi, and a pair of rocking chairs on the porch. They also have a laundry facility for guests. Additionally, the Jacksons and volunteers provide meals and even celebrate holidays with their guests who are away from their families. Some have come from as far away as an island, far outside the continental United States.
Their dream is to eventually acquire more property and add cabins so they can accommodate more cancer patients.
After hearing the Jacksons’ story, Judge Metts said he believed Larry Jackson was the contest winner for a greater reason.
“Hopefully, Mr. Jackson winning this competition will help draw attention to what he and his wife are doing,” Judge Metts said. “It’s a tremendous service, and they’re obviously doing it to help those in need and to glorify God who has allowed Mr. Jackson to continue living when doctors said he wouldn’t.”
“When we sponsored this contest, we did so to promote family values and to support our Second Amendment rights,” He said. “This is one more example of how you can make all the plans you want to, but ultimately, God decides the outcome – That applies to everything from deer hunting competitions, to life itself.”
For more information about the Jackson family’s story, the Hope Cancer Retreat, or how to contact Larry and Jenny Jackson to volunteer or contribute, visit their website at www.hopecancerretreat.com
Photo: (left to right) Wayne Sitton, Constable Rowdy Hayden, Larry Jackson (Biggest Buck Contest Winner), Judge James Metts and Ricky Overall