PBAF awards $1.95M in grants

The Permian Basin Area Foundation awarded about $1.95 million in grants to nonprofit organizations serving West Texas communities.
Aaron Bedell, chief operating officer of PBAF, said during a press conference Thursday held at Bynum School in Midland that the foundation has grown to include more than 315 permanent charitable funds that serve more than 20 counties from Presidio County to Borden County.
PBAF has awarded more than $105 million in grants and scholarships since it was established in 1989. The foundation celebrated its 30th year of bringing ongoing philanthropy to the region this March.
Representatives from some of the 32 organizations receiving funding during this spring grant cycle accepted their organization’s award in person, including members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of West Texas.
The nonprofit health agency focuses on improving the lives of people with muscular dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and related muscle-debilitating diseases. MDA works to empower families with resources and is also the largest source of funding for neuromuscular disease research outside of the federal government, their website states.
MDA Executive Director Byron Kelso and MDA Development Specialist Shylah Cutbirth approached the podium with the Massie family. Cutbirth said the grant funding they received would go toward sending children with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases to summer camp.
Cutbirth was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when she was 12 years old.
“Ever since I was 12 (until the age of 18), MDA sent me to camp and it was a life- changing experience,” she said. “I was able to see that there are others like me, who share the same struggles as me, and we’re not alone in this fight.”
Kelso said those with muscular dystrophy have certain issues that they must overcome, but the summer camps children go to are inclusive to the health needs of each camper.
Emily Massie is the mother of 9-year-old Trenton who will leave for a MDA summer camp in Torreon, N.M., at the end of this month. He will have the option to participate in activities such as laser tag, zip line, archery, swimming and even life-sized battleship.
“There are no limitations at camp,” Cutbirth said. “They get to do what they may not normally be able to do. (The foundation’s) money is going to help him do that.”
Jeff Massie, Trenton’s father, said the experience will be incredible for his son as his 4-year-old clung to his leg. Trenton’s brother, Traiger, will be eligible to attend MDA summer camp in two years once he turns 6 years old.