The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

June 6, 2014

Sam Gibbons Memorial Walking Horse show set for June 14

Event to benefit Alabama Veterans Museum building fund

— The third annual Col. Sam Gibbons Memorial Walking Horse Show is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Arena on Alabama 99.

The show, sponsored by the Alabama Veterans Museum with the assistance of Ken Wilson of the Southeastern Saddle Club, will benefit the museum.

The annual event was organized in 2012 after Wilson, a Tennessee walking horse owner and the manager of Southeastern Saddle Club, contacted Teresa Todd. He was seeking Todd’s help to find the right nonprofit to donate proceeds from a show.

Todd knew the perfect organization — the Alabama Veterans Museum. She explained to Wilson that a museum board member had recently passed away. The board member Col. Sam Gibbons was a Tennessee walking horse trainer.

Col. Sam Gibbons

Todd said Mr. Sam, as she called him, dedicated most of his life to the walking horse industry and that he was show manager of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, located in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where they select the World Champion Tennessee Walking Horse of the World.

In Shelbyville, Gibbons has been honored for 37 years of dedication to the industry with a street named Sam Gibbons Boulevard.

Mr. Sam also cherished the Veterans Museum, according to Todd. He volunteered many, many hours to help with fundraising. Gibbons also served on the board of directors and as the museum’s treasurer from 2002 until he died March 22, 2010. He was 95.

Gibbons was a World War II veteran that served with the 79th Division. He landed at Utah Beach on June 14, 1944 — “D-Day, plus 8” — and fought across France crossing into Belgium and Holland.

He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor along with several other distinguished citations and awards, according to Todd.

“This year our horse show will be held on the 70th anniversary of when Mr. Sam and his division landed on Utah Beach in 1944,” Todd said. “It is also the day we commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777, plus the United States Army also celebrates the Army birthday on this date.”

Todd said organizers hope to have a large veteran presence and will honor their service as well.

“Even though Mr. Sam never spoke much of his achievements or the honors he received, he wouldn’t mind having this horse show in his name; he always encouraged the progress and endurance of this museum.”

Alabama Veterans Museum Director Sandy Thompson said proceeds help with the museum’s building expansion. “We have found the horse show to be our niche; we will use the proceeds toward our expansion fund,” Thompson said. “We need to raise $1 million to complete our building expansion project. This horse show will be one of several areas we use to work toward achieving this goal.”

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