Deep in the Heart of Texas
A Personal Blog of Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Yesterday I visited the Amarillo Fire Department Central Fire Station and brought lunch from local restaurant Dyer’s BBQ. While there, I met with local officials, first responders and other organizations that responded to the recent Panhandle wildfires and thanked them for their service to the state and their fellow Texans.
These first responders worked tirelessly on the front lines of the dangerous Panhandle wildfires over the last few weeks. While the lunch was a way for me to show support and gratitude for these first responders and the courage and heroism they have demonstrated, every single day of the year I give thanks for all Texas first responders and law enforcement and the work they do to keep Texans safe.
As the Panhandle continues to recover from the devastating impact of the wildfires, Greg and I ask that all Texans continue to keep the Panhandle community in their thoughts and prayers.
I was also in Amarillo on Sunday evening, where I attended and addressed the 20th Annual Respect Life Banquet. The banquet benefits the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo's Respect Life Ministries, and it was so nice to be among so many Texans who share my passion for protecting unborn children and promoting a culture of life in Texas.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
The universal sign that spring has sprung in Texas is the first sighting of bluebonnets on the roadside. While Texas has many beautiful wildflowers, the official favorite is far and above the bluebonnet. Our state’s love for bluebonnets isn’t anything new. Many generations of Texans have adored bluebonnets. In fact, it was on this day over one hundred years ago – March 7, 1901 to be exact – that the Texas legislature proclaimed the bluebonnet the State Flower of Texas. And thanks to a state highway-beautification program where bluebonnet seed was scattered along roadways, year after year, come Spring, Texans get to enjoy their beauty.
Photo courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
As Governor Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel once crooned:
“Beautiful, Beautiful Texas,
Where the beautiful bluebonnets grow.”
This spring, whether you’re taking a walk or going for a drive, take a moment to appreciate our state’s beautiful bluebonnets, just like so many Texans before you have done.
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Over the past four years, thousands of Austinites have donated millions of dollars to hundreds of local nonprofits through Amplify Austin.
Amplify Austin is a 24-hour online giving spree where generous Texans can make monetary donations to local nonprofits, with the goal of raising as much money as possible in 24 hours. Just last year, over 61,000 monetary donations were made to a wide variety of nonprofits, all in the name of serving others and strengthening the Austin community. And thanks to the support of generous sponsors, the donations are “amplified” by matching dollars.
This year’s Amplify Austin starts tomorrow! It begins at 6pm on Thursday, March 2nd and ends 24 hours later at 6pm on Friday, March 3rd.
If you feel called to serve your fellow Texans by participating in Amplify Austin, I would encourage you to visit http://www.amplifyatx.org/ to learn more about how you can get involved! You can also follow Amplify Austin on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to use the hashtag #AmplifyATX if you participate!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Happy Valentine's Day! Since today is Heart Day, I want to take the opportunity to talk about a very important topic - heart disease.
It is well known that Texans’ independent spirit and can-do attitude are an integral part of what has made our state into such a wonderful place to live, and has helped to build a bright and prosperous future for Texas. However, many of us do not know or grasp the significant risk heart disease poses to our lives and, thus, the livelihood of our state. Heart disease, which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, is the number one cause of death in the US. The scope and impact of heart disease crosses all racial and ethnic groups, is a major health issue for both men and women, and has affected countless families who have lost loved ones.
While the threat of heart disease is great, there are many ways in which we can guard against it. One of the most important factors of preventing heart disease is knowing our personal risk factors, which can include, but are not limited to: family history, age, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes and smoking. Living a healthy lifestyle is also crucial for preventing heart disease. By being active on a regular basis and eating a balanced and healthy diet, we can avoid a greater risk of heart disease.
As medical professionals treat and continue to research heart disease, it has become clear that prevention of this disease starts with education. That is why February is dedicated to spreading heart health awareness – informing Texans of the substantial threat heart disease poses, as well as the importance of knowing personal risk factors and effective prevention strategies.
At this time, I encourage all Texans to learn more about heart disease, their personal risk factors, and healthy lifestyle choices that can help prevent it. By securing our health and well-being, we will help create a better future for the Lone Star State.
Friday, February 10, 2017
With Spring quickly approaching, now is a good time to think about weekend road trips. With over 268,800 square miles, Texas has an abundance of attractions that can be compiled into a fantastic bucket list. Texas Monthly compiled a list of 63 things that “all Texans must do before they die”. Below are a few of my favorites from the article.
Immerse yourself in the Texas culture by visiting the site of two battles at Adobe Walls, learn to ride a horse or two-step, visit the painted churches in Little Bohemia, enter a chili cook-off, or finally get yourself that pair of custom cowboy boots.
Click on the boots to watch a video below about the uniquely Texas tradition of custom cowboy boots. To see more videos like this, visit https://www.traveltexas.com/
Texas has some of the most beautiful landscapes as well as natural attractions. Hiking Palo Duro Canyon, floating the Comal River, attending a star party at the McDonald Observatory, seeing the Marfa lights, or swimming at Dolan Falls are all some of the beautiful and amazing attractions that Texas has to offer.
It’s no secret that Texas has some of the best food around, so if you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, here are a few ideas: stop in to Mary’s Café in Strawn for their famous chicken-fried steak, Snow’s in Lexington for some middle-of-nowhere-finger-licking barbecue, Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap for a mesquite coal-cooked steak, or H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop in El Paso for delicious Mexican food while you get your car washed, just to name a few. If you’re just in the mood for a drink, you can visit some historic places such as K. Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Railroad Blues in Alpine, or grab a Dublin Dr. Pepper made with pure cane sugar.
Whether it’s exploring, eating, or just enjoying the view, Texas has countless pastimes and adventures to offer. Now is as good a time as ever to venture out and explore the rich history and wonder that is our great State of Texas!
Friday, February 03, 2017
It’s that time of year again! Nominations for the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards are open, and I am honored to once again chair this year's awards and help celebrate my fellow Texans who have answered the call to service.
The Awards – administered by the OneStar Foundation – honor the contributions of individuals, groups and organizations in Texas that have made a positive impact in their communities or across Texas through service and volunteering. The eight award categories are:
Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award
First Lady’s Rising Star Award
Partners in Education Award
Service to Veterans Award
Higher Education Community Impact Award
Corporate Community Impact Award
Community Leadership Award
National Service “Make a Difference” Award
The awardees will be honored in the Fall at an evening reception hosted by the First Lady at the Governor’s Mansion. I am looking forward to this opportunity to applaud those who have committed their time, talent or treasure to help create a brighter future for their fellow Texans.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Yesterday was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Texas - a day where we can show our support and gratitude for those in law enforcement who put their lives on the line to keep Texans safe. We participated by lighting the Governor's Mansion blue last night.
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor
Greg also posted a video message that said, in part: "At a time when law enforcement officers are increasingly coming under attack, I hope my fellow Texans will join me in showing gratitude to the men and women of law enforcement. As Governor I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that we keep our law enforcement officers well equipped and safe, because I want them to know that Texas has their back.”
I join Greg in expressing my support and gratitude for the law enforcement officers across Texas who work hard every day to make our state safer for all.
Friday, January 06, 2017
2017 is here, and a new year brings new resolutions, plans, and new beginnings. But I want to take a quick look back at 2016, because it was a very important year for me – it was the year I launched Texanthropy!
Through Texanthropy, I am making volunteerism and service to others my primary focus as First Lady of Texas. I have already met so many Texans who are doing wonderful things to help their fellow Texans. Here’s a quick look back at just a few Texanthropists I met in 2016:
In 2017, I look forward to continuing to work to bring together the two things that I am most passionate about – Texas and philanthropy. With your help, I hope to inspire more Texans to get involved and help make a difference through service and volunteering.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
On Saturday morning, Greg and I joined many of our fellow Texans at the Texas State Cemetery - and thousands across to country - to participate in Wreaths Across America Day. Greg delivered remarks at the ceremony here in Austin, and following the program, we laid wreaths at the graves of three Medal of Honor recipients buried in the Texas State Cemetery – Brigadier General Robert Galer, Sergeant Jason Logan and Second Lieutenant George O'Brien.
We were honored to participate, and I loved Greg's message to those gathered with us for the ceremony:
- “We’re called on today and every day to remember our fallen heroes. We must remember their names, we must remember their lives and we must remember their sacrifice, because we are each entrusted with their legacy of faith in this great nation. May we always remember our troops in harm’s way still today, and may we never forget the price they pay so that we can be free.”
Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 to honor fallen heroes across the nation, work with local veterans organizations and teach younger generations about the value of their freedoms secured by the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces. Each year on Wreaths Across America Day, coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies are held at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad. While we can never say thank you enough, this was just one way that we as Americans can come together to honor the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
I wanted to share with you an article I recently read because I think it is a very important reminder:
As the article states, December is a particularly busy time for many nonprofits not only in the generous gifts they receive, but also in what they are giving. Families may need extra food for holiday meals, a little help with Christmas gifts for their kiddos. There are so many wonderful organizations across the state that help our fellow Texans year-round, but they may need a little extra help from us during the busy holiday season.
One organization I heard needed a little extra help this Christmas is Partnerships for Children, a nonprofit here in Austin that provides support for children who are in the care of Child Protective Services. During the holidays PFC has their Holiday Wishes Program, which provides Christmas gifts to the children it serves. I got word from PFC that they were low on gifts and may not have enough to fulfill every child’s wishes. So I answered the call to service by going shopping for toys and delivering them to their Toy Warehouse earlier this week.
Here I am visiting their toy warehouse, where elves were busy at work fulfilling the holiday wishes of Texas children.
Texans are generous by nature, and every day, year-round, we answer the call to service. But if you feel called to help out a little more this holiday season, I encourage you to find an organization in your community and see if there is anything you can do to help them during this particularly busy time of the year. ‘Tis the season!
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Elves have been very busy at the Governor’s Mansion this week, and now the halls are decked for the holidays!
I want to remind all Texans that the Governor’s Mansion is open to the public for tours. Lots and lots of Texans are taking advantage of the public tours – in fact, this November was the second-busiest November on record! And, Texans who schedule a public tour during the month of December will get the chance to view this year’s beautiful decorations.
December tours are available for the following dates:
- Tuesday, December 6
- Wednesday, December 7
- Thursday, December 8
- Monday, December 12
- Monday, December 19
- Tuesday, December 20
- Wednesday, December 21
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
This morning I helped kick off the 2016 Christmas season at the Texas Capitol by receiving Christmas trees that will soon deck the Capitol’s halls.
Three seven-foot Virginia pine trees arrived at the Capitol by horse-drawn carriage, with one each going to the Governor, House, and Senate. The trees are from Spring Creek Growers, a family-owned farm located in Montgomery County, Texas, and were delivered by Spring Creek Grower’s owner Carla Jones and members of her family. Carla is also the President of the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association. In addition to these three trees, the House and Senate Chambers will each feature 25-foot tall trees, which arrived at the Capitol earlier this week.
It is indeed the most wonderful and magical time of the year, and I know that these beautiful Texas-grown Christmas trees will bring joy and cheer to all who visit the Texas Capitol this season!