Farmers come together to help friend in need
By Gena Barth
Special to High Plains Journal
In farming communities everywhere, people know how to take care of each other. They provide shining examples of the community spirit every day.
In Tahoka, Texas, that community spirit is alive and well. When one of their own--someone who showed a continual positive outlook--was dealt a double blow, the community members rallied to help in his time of hardship.
Danny Paris has always lived and farmed in Tahoka, and has grown cotton his entire life. And, for the past 18 years Paris balanced farming with the physical stresses of multiple sclerosis. Yet, he has remained a successful farmer, loving and supportive husband and father, and a strong community leader. According to neighbors Paris has never given in to the advice of the doctors to slow down, rather he has stood as a tremendous example to his friends, family, and associates, as a man of his word, strength and integrity.
Paris has overcome many challenges in his life. From his diagnosis of MS, to the daily worries of farming, he's met them head-on. However, recently Paris was thrown one more--a diagnosis of throat cancer. Not wanting to worry his family, friends or community members, Paris remained strong, keeping the attitude of "persevering through adversity."
Despite a rigorous schedule of numerous doctor visits, testing and consultations, Paris continued to keep his family and farming business at the top of his priorities. He knew his cotton crop and cattle were in need of his constant attention, but he also never lost sight of the importance of his health. Although he was struggling, physically, Paris continued to farm, as he has done throughout his life.
When Paris needed to be focused on treatment and healing, however, he was preoccupied with his farming responsibilities and in the process of beginning his spring farming plan. Preparation for crops needed to be completed before the lengthy trip down to Dr. Anderson in Houston, to begin his cancer treatment. He and his family didn't know how they would accomplish all that needed to be done on the farm, and still be able to focus on his treatment.
As word spread around the close-knit farming community of Tahoka, Texas, the hearts of fellow farmers opened to the needs of the Paris family. With Renn Dorman and Brad Williams in charge, plans of relieving Paris' immediate responsibility of farming were finalized. Early one morning this spring, 22 tractors and four spray rigs showed up at the farm to take over farming 2,300 acres. Farmers, from within a 12-mile radius, donated their equipment, time and hard work, to lesson the worries for the Paris family.
The volunteers came because of Paris' inspiring positive attitude. Brian Durham, Paris' cousin and friend explained he works, "never complaining and always putting everyone else's needs before his own."
"Danny is the bravest man I've ever known," Durham said. "Although he has MS and he doesn't get around very good, he never complains. He gets up and gets after it everyday. If someone else was in need, he would have done the same for them, as the members of the community came together on his behalf."
Looking on with pride, Durham stated, "Danny helped me get started in my farming career as well. He's been more like a brother--and sometimes, like a father to me."
A true miracle was performed among all the volunteers as they, in one day, completed the field preparation of all 2,300 acres. The volunteers put Treflan down and incorporated it with field cultivators. The tractors that had pulled into Paris' farm around 8 a.m. were headed home before 5 p.m. Within less than eight hours, every acre had been prepared for planting.
Paris has continued the family tradition of his parents Leslie and Maxine Paris. Leslie, Danny's father, still farms, while Maxine, Danny's mother, owns and runs the local flower shop in addition to owning and managing a few rental homes in town. But, she still always has time to help someone in need. Witnessing the strength and energy of the Paris family, it is easy to see where Danny's strong but generous nature was formed.
As the "miraculous day" of farming came to a close, Paris and his wife, Kim, could not have been more thankful or felt more blessed by the enormous burden being lifted off their shoulders. It was a relief for the Paris family to know that they could begin his cancer treatment without worrying about his farming chores. And, as Paris undergoes his treatments, he can rest easy knowing that soon these fields will reap a profitable cotton crop, just as in years' past.
Right now, however, Danny and Kim, along with their children, Shae, 25, twin boys Josh and Jerrod, 23, and Michael, 15, will bond together fearlessly, quoting Paris, "It's going to be all right."
Many thanks go out to these friends, family and volunteers: Scott Huffaker, Joe Brooks, Ben Franklin, Larry Pyron, Renn Dorman, Johnny Draper, Kent Kahl, Randy Erickson, Billy Russ, Tony Botkin, Wayne Barton, Brad Williams, Jackie Stidham, Randy Brewer, Robert Pool, Dusty Young, Larry Tyler, Justin Harvey, Shane Huffaker, Valton Stephens, Edward Zavala, Helena Chemical Company-Lamesa, Benny Gass, Ben Franklin, Sammy Sims, D.J. Sims, Taylor Tractor-Tahoka, Wayne Brown, Jimmy Williams, David Ehlers, David Eaker, Tommy Botkin, and many more throughout the community.