Tony Villalobos Benefit Raffle- Art from Anthony Thomaus Marquez XVII Carvings
Tony was using an old 1941 Ford 9N tractor to move a building that had blown over in a bad storm, Tony managed to upright the building, when he started moving the building in to the right position that’s when the tractor flipped and landed on top of Tony, even tho helped arrived in a timely manner it took first responders approximately an hour to free him from underneath the tractor. Once he was freed he was then air lifted to a trauma hospital in Tyler Texas. Tony's was crushed by the tractor which broke his sternum in half, one half of the sternum pushed up towards his clavicle all his ribs that attached to the sternum were also broken, Tony was very lucky that the injuries weren’t quite as bad as they could’ve been. Tony underwent surgery to fix the broken sternum and all his ribs, and is now at home recovering. He’s getting stronger each day and even though he’s facing a long recovery he's eager to get back to work helping retired war dogs and veterans in need of a service dog.
Tony's health care and recovery costs are significant. Anthony graciously donated his time and skill to help Tony and his Family offset some of the costs.
Tony got the “K9 bug” many years ago when he moved to Texas from California. Tony had a job promotion that required him to relocate and leave his family and friends behind. When Tony got to Texas he decided to get a dog, he got a Labrador puppy named Stormy to keep him company. Shortly after Stormy proved to be a bit of a challenge to Tony, He would come home to find that Stormy had chewed two sets of couches, tore the carpet in his apartment. Tony didn’t know that having what he now knows as a High Drive lab in an apartment and working 16 hours a day was not a good idea. A Coworker of Tony suggested he give the dog a Job so Tony decided to have Stormy tested for Search and Rescue. Stormy passed with flying colors and began her career as a SAR dog in training.
Tony and his first wife then moved back to California and Tony lost Stormy in the Divorce, his Ex Wife kept Stormy for a few months then gave her away, Tony later found out that Stormy passed away of cancer. After he lost Stormy Tony missed his partner terribly, he also missed working and training dogs. He volunteered with local police departments helping them with decoying, cleaning kennels and training. Tony found that he was happiest working with dogs, he worked in the civilian world as a K9 handler. One day after being laid off a DOD contract Tony got the call from a recruiter asking him if he wanted to work in Afghanistan. Tony immediately jumped on the opportunity and decided to only do one year on his contract. He attended K9 School In Hill Country Texas that’s where he was paired up with CWD Basco. CWD Basco is a Dual Purpose K9.
Tony and CWD Basco were assigned to Southern Afghanistan, they were both transferred to Bagram were they worked the end of Tony’s tour before coming home to have to repair his shoulder and treat nerve damage to his arms. Because Basco was still young he stayed behind while Tony came home, up until this point Tony has never been able to adopt any of his working dogs so he knew that the chances to adopt basco were very grim. After being gone for so long in Afghanistan Tony struggled to adjust back in to the civilian world, like all handlers he missed the job, his dog and his colleagues. One day Tony got the call if he wanted to adopt Basco which Tony did and now Basco enjoys his retirement living Tony and his family in Henderson Texas.
Due to Tony’s recovery doctors restricted him from going back to work to Afghanistan, One day Tony got offered a job to work with Mission K9 Rescue helping retired working dogs rehabilitate and finding them homes. This is Tony’s way to give back help those four legged heroes that give so much to save peoples lives find a good couch to retire on.
A lot of Tony’s veteran friends would go to Tony for help in obtaining or training service dogs to help them with PTSD. That’s when Tony found out that the service dog industry is broken, veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate, some veterans are required to fundraise up to $30,000 just to obtain a poorly trained “Service dog”. Tony kept meeting veterans that would say “This dog causes me more stress than it helps”, That’s when Tony decided to start his own Non-Profit organization that provides properly training service dog to help with emotional and physical disabilities to veterans. He made it a mission that the dog and training would be provided at no cost to the Veteran.
Tony applied for all the paperwork to obtain his 501 (c) 3 with the IRS and the state of Texas got all his paperwork in order and approved, started working with veterans providing them training and equipment support everything was moving in the right direction until the day of his accident...
We'll allow ticket sales until June 30th 2018 and we'll do the drawing on July 4th 2018. The raffle includes the dog head sculpture and a cigar ashtray made and donated by the Matthews family. Shipping in the lower 48 will be covered. Outside of that arrangements should be made.
Anthony started XVII carvings as a way remember 17 Marines he served with in Afghanistan that never came home. He has hand carved 16 of 17 battlefield cross and hand delivered each one to a gold star families from that deployment. He describes his work on Memorial Day 2018 as;
"What I’ve taken upon myself to do with the Carvings. Is the best way for me to express to the families that indeed, their Sons are remembered.
From the first delivery to the most recent. Out of the original XVII I’ve traveled over 27,581 miles. Countless hours on the road, sleeping in the truck at rest stops, or in grimy hotels. Hours upon hours behind the saw, in the blistering heat, rain or even cold till my fingers go numb.
All for a single moment.
To stand face to face with the Gold Star Families, and express my Sincere Thank You’s/Gratitude.
From Log to finished piece, 16 are completed and delivered. Out of the 16. I’ve been welcomed and Honored to be able to carry the carving into the homes of the Gold Star Families."
Anthony is a retired Marine K9 Handler that now lives near Tulsa with his retired partner, Allie