Sharon Gaston

Sharon Gaston was helping out a friend the night of Jan. 1 when she went to a ranch near Nocona to rescue some show horses from a wildfire which devastated a nearby community.

A mishap with the horses left the Saint Jo veterinarian in a four-month coma, struggling to recover and needing help with her medical bills.

A benefit concert and brisket and chili cook-off have been planned for July 22 at the Cooke County Fairgrounds.

The cookoff runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There’s an entry fee for the cookoff and cash prizes and trophies will be awarded for the top three places.

The gate for the concert and cook-off opens at 4 p.m.

Gaston’s friend Susan Richison, who is helping to organize the benefit and who raises thoroughbred horses, said she had gone to a horse show in Florida the weekend the massive winter wildfire broke out near her property.

The fire, which all but destroyed the small western Montague County town of Ringgold, burned more than 2,200 acres and destroyed about 30 homes.

The city of Nocona, with more than 3,000 residents, was evacuated, as were persons living in surrounding towns.

Gaston went to Richison’s property to rescue the horses. She was trying to separate and load some yearlings into a trailer so they could be taken to a safer location when one of the horses bolted and knocked her to the ground.

According to Gaston’s friend and Cactus Clinic receptionist Susan Richison, Gaston injured her head when she fell on the concrete floor of a barn.

Richison said when Gaston, dazed from the fall, tried to stand up, another horse caught her near the shoulder and she fell again, this time striking the back of her head.

Gaston received multiple skull fractures and was in a coma for four months.

Richison said her friend gradually regained consciousness, but had some speech and memory problems.

“It’s a misconception that you’re fine when you come out of a coma,” she observed.

She said Gaston’s recovery is progressing well, but medical bills are a burden for Gaston and her husband David who live near Saint Jo.

The Sharon Gaston Benefit Ranch Rodeo held in Muenster last January netted $70,000 to help pay medical expenses but “that’s just a drop in the bucket,” Richison said.

She said Gaston, who was an instructor at North Central Texas College until she left to attend veterinary school, decided at the age of 40 she wanted a change. She received her doctor of veterinary science degree in 1998 and opened her clinic in April, 2003.

Former students of Gaston appreciated her skills both as a teacher and as a scientist.

Gaston is at home now, but continues a seven-hour a day regimen of therapy, Richison said.

A brain injury is often a devastating event, but friends say Gaston is determined to make a full recovery and return to her practice.

In the meantime, a number of local businesses have donated their time to helping Gaston at the benefit concert and cook-off, Richison said.

The concert is sponsored by several local and national businesses.

Jimmie Grokett, Tom Flanery and Wade Kilgore are scheduled to open the show with music at 5:30 p.m.

Other entertainers slated to appear are The Quik Draw Band, Big Karma Records recording artist Mark David Manders and Eleven Hundred Springs.

There is a charge for admission at the gate and, tickets are also available online at www.frontgatetickets.com.

Radio stations KICM-FM, 93.7, “Kick ‘em Country” of Ardmore, KGAF-AM, 1580, of Gainesville and KHYI-FM, 95.3, “The Range” of Plano expect to offer chances for callers to win tickets to the show.

Richison said everyone is encouraged to bring a blanket and lawn chairs since this is an outdoor event.

For more information on either of these fund-raising events contact Susan at 1(940)372-0839 or 1(940)995-2156.

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