On The Trail To Where I Am

Howdy, I’m Buck Helton. Born in Texas, I moved to Tucson with purple mountains majesty and towering saguaros the backdrop for a John Ford movie where I ride and sing with John Wayne, Marty Robbins and Mr. Spock. Welcome to the heart of my western world. 

A friend, who is a fitness and nutrition expert (as well as an amazing life coach), convinced me in January to move to Tucson to literally save my life. My body was giving out on me and I'd given up any hope of a life worth living. The day before my 48th birthday (b-day February 19), she flew to Texas to help me pack and move and after giving or throwing away most of what I owned, we packed what little remained and drove through a Texas ice-storm to sun-kissed Arizona ok March 1st. My life here since then has been a combination of both love-filled miracles and hard work through physical and emotional pain.

Below is some information about the journey I've been on this year and the challenges that lie ahead just around the bend. I hope you'll read this and share this page with anyone you feel would have it in their heart to help me. I'm at a critical point in my transformation, and although it's hard to ask I am asking for a hand up so I can get on my feet and go forward.

May God, and a good song be ever in your heart!
Buck Helton

Buck Helton is a Western Singer & Cowboy Poet, author and western music historian who worked for a short time as a cowboy when he was younger. He has been performing since he was five and comes from a music family, and his heart is about promoting the western culture of the cowboy and the silver screen cowboys too.

Buck has been finally dealing this year with the severe health problems, like obesity and morbid obesity, that have affected him for most of his life. On March 1st, he moved from Texas to Tucson to literally save his life when a friend offered to coach him personally in life-lessons, nutrition and fitness IF he would move to Tucson and implement what she suggested. In February, Buck was dying emotionally and physically and he feels and has been assured by professionals that he would not have lived to the end of this year. He had diabetes, diabetic ulcers and peripheral neuropathy on his feet, high cholesterol, morbid obesity (he was in the year 2000 about 400 pounds and has hovered between 340-360 ever since), almost crippling arthritis and more.  He had given up on life, had a deep crisis of faith and his coach saw that he had severe depression (officially diagnosed in April as clinical and he is under treatment and counseling for this) and she suspected
Asperger's (a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, officially diagnosed September 26th to be true). His height of 6'8" has compressed to just under 6'4", from what has now been diagnosed as Scheurman’s disease, a genetic kyphosis (severe curvature of the spine which causes compression and the spine to fold over) and this must be corrected surgically to keep him from dying from congestive heart failure within a probable five years to an optimistic ten. It's a complicated, high risk surgery (with serious warnings from the surgeon of possible paralysis or death) that he has decided he will have done. As he quotes John Wayne, he's scared but saddling up anyway.

From January 2014, when he really started working with his coach after a bumpy start late last year, Buck says " Since March, after seven months of exercise and major dietary changes, I am now down to 200 lbs(from almost 350 Easter of 2013), my fat% has dropped from 43% at the first measurement in March to about 17% now and I am working hard to gain muscle and strength. It is a major challenge to build muscle, as I am so atrophied from a lifetime of dis-use. I am no longer diabetic, my cholesterol of 104 is far below the average 250 it was, B/P average of 105/60, my arthritis is about 95% gone and my depression is being successfully treated with coping tools, lifestyle changes, and medication and I am discovering (even though the challenges and stress) what happiness feels like. All of these things were necessary to get under control to be able to withstand the surgery I need to save my life."

In the midst of his other changes and challenges, (imagine finding out that you have an autism spectrum disorder that you'd never even heard of ... At over 48 years old) this year has hit Buck hard financially. The move depleted his resources; it took him almost two months to find a job, and then his wound care doctor wrote an order for him to not walk more than 100 feet per hour and to put his feet up at every opportunity. His work laid him off due to this and when he got another job where they knew of his condition and hired him with full disclosure, three days later "corporate" laid him off with the understanding they might have a place for him when he was "fully functional." He is still on doctors orders to not walk more than 100 feet an hour (as of October 17), he has only been able to meet his monthly expenses of (a very frugal) $1500 per month twice since March, and he is facing eviction from his room-mate situation and the loss of his truck, this month! His room-mate has been very generous with debt forgiveness and helping to pay his bills, but is unable to continue due to their own financial situation and they must have a room-mate who can pay rent and 1/2 utilities. Buck is in debt of approximately $6,000 from medical appointments he had to pay for before he got AHCCCS (AZ Medicaid) in late June, the move and from a personal loan. He has been sponsored with some clothing for performance, but he has also had to borrow money to buy clothing as NONE of his former clothing fits him anymore. 

Buck is in the final stretch, using each day to his best advantage by eating clean and working out as hard as he can, as he moves toward the cat scan he'll get mid-November to assure he is strong enough for the back surgery that is planned for Spring of 2015. They will release his tendons, place shims of cadaver vertebrae and place titanium hardware from T-2 to L-4 in this complicated, high risk surgery that will take 10-12 hours to accomplish. He'll be on his stomach for 3-4 months after that and it will take approximately a year for him to recover. He finally got an appointment on September 26th for disability, and he is told it will be a minimum of two to four and a half months before he even gets an answer about IF they will help him and if so, how.

Buck shares "It’s been a long hard ride, and it’s far from over. This incredibly high risk spinal surgery is staring me in the eyes come next Spring, and the doctor has already warned me, and had me sign enough paperwork to choke a lawyer that there is a real risk of paralysis, even death in addition to the normal worries about post-op infection, etc. I was blessed to find Dr. Jeong, for he is an extremely gifted surgeon, and my physical therapist is just one of his success stories. I'm working out like I'm in a surgery Olympics and figuring out how to make the living expenses I need and get the work that I still need done (like a deep all quadrant periodontal scaling/cleaning that my insurance doesn't pay for in time to heal and assure no infection is present or they can't intubate me for the back surgery, and I have a graft being applied to my right foot on Oct. 20 so the one last persistent diabetic ulcer can have a better chance of healing, and I can't walk for a minimum of two weeks after that)."    (UPDATE: a generous donor has contributed the funds for Buck to get his periodontal work done, and appointments have been made to complete this by the end of October.)

Buck's immediate needs are to make at LEAST one payment on his truck at $250 by October 17 (he owes $2,800 to completely pay it off, and he is three payments behind),  and to pay at LEAST two months of rent and 1/2 utilities at $700 per month (He is four months behind and faces eviction. He is in a roommate situation that is best for him, where he is cared for and knows he could recover well from the surgery, but his lack of ability to pay rent and 1/2 utilities means he has been given notice). He has other living expenses, like a storage unit, truck insurance, food, gas, etc. that are not able to be paid.

Looking forward, Buck will need at least $1,500 per month until (WHEN, he hopes for) his disability kicks in for living expenses.

Buck has also said " I was dying and not only didn’t I care, I welcomed the prospect. The crisis of faith I had was such that the only "faith" I had was in knowing where I would go when I died...not the faith to live as God created me to live. I have a life worth fighting for now, and I’m doing everything I can to be here until Jesus comes."

To help Buck NOW:

1) Send a check to Buck Helton, PO Box 89276, Tucson, AZ, 85752
2) Send a payment through PayPal to [email redacted]
3) Donate to this GoFundMe page, where there are rewards, like his new CD, for your donation.

Please do what your heart leads you to do and SHARE this information so we can HELP BUCK!

One of the rewards on this page is my upcoming CD, a best of Buck Helton one, slated for release in January 2015. This is my first new album in 4 years. On The Trail To Where I Am contains 9 of the best recordings from my last 9 albums, including Approaching Hoofbeats, The Bard of Armagh – Streets Of Laredo, Texas Plains, and King Of Kings Ranch. A previously unreleased track of Cowboy Poetry, plus 2 new bonus tracks recorded in July at Doublecheck Music in Sedona, AZ.

I’m sending this out to the world. I’m asking you to support the Western arts, and one Western artist in particular. Anything you can do to help me help myself is deeply appreciated.

Thank you again,
May God and a good song be ever in your heart!
Buck Helton


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Buck Helton 
Tucson, AZ
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