Tis the Season of Giving Back for Make-A-Wish® Rio Grande Valley


PlainsCapital Bank Makes Generous Donation in Honor of Colleague’s Family

When Make-A-Wish grants the request of a child facing a life-threatening medical condition, the thought of being “paid back” isn’t a consideration.  However, such was the nature of the unexpected phone call Ava Sandlin, executive director of Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Rio Grande Valley, recently received from PlainsCapital Bank.  On Thursday, December 1, 2016, PlainsCapital Bank will present a $5,000 check to Sandlin and Make-A-Wish Rio Grande Valley in honor of Brownsville seventh grader Valentina Villanueva, the 12-year-old daughter of PlainsCapital Bank’s Brownsville Market President Raul Villanueva.  Valentina was among 95 kids in the Rio Grande Valley to have wishes granted by the organization last year.

The check presentation will be held at 3pm on Dec. 1 at PlainsCapital Bank’s Trenton branch, located at 7201 N. 10th Street.  Valentina Villanueva will participate in the presentation and will be available for interviews, along with Make-A-Wish and PlainsCapital Bank executives.

The Rio Grande Valley chapter of Make-A-Wish serves a six-county area: Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Willacy, Brooks, and Kenedy.  The chapter’s charter prevents it from soliciting donations outside of the Valley, so local corporate contributions like the one from PlainsCapital Bank are vital.

“What a great way to kick off the holiday season,” said Sandlin.  “PlainsCapital’s generous donation will allow us to reach more wish kids like Valentina, particularly in the lower Valley, and grant their one true heartfelt wish.”

According to Sandlin, Brownsville is the organization’s largest territory with one third of all wish requests coming from Cameron County.

Albert Chapa, PlainsCapital Bank’s McAllen market president, hopes the donation will generate added support  for Make-A-Wish this holiday season and help shine a spotlight on the organization’s important role in the community.

“The wish experience can mark a turning point in a child’s battle against their illness,” said Chapa.  “We saw that with Valentina.  Her fight has been a very personal journey for Raul and his family.  Because we are a close-knit group here at PlainsCapital, Raul’s family is an extension of our Bank family.  When the opportunity presented itself to give back to the organization that has played such a powerful role in the life of our friend and colleague, we didn’t think twice.

The $5,000 donation is prize money earned from PlainsCapital Bank’s annual charity barbecue cook-off competition.  Known for its culture of giving back, PlainsCapital sponsored the event this past October, inviting PlainsCapital Bank cook teams from around the state to compete for prize money benefitting the charities of their choice.  Chapa organized the South Texas team, which included Villanueva. The PlainsCapital RGV cook team took home the $10,000 first place prize in the charity cook-off – of which half is being donated to Make-A-Wish.

“Raul was genuinely touched when we told him we wanted to divide the prize money between Make-A-Wish and another Valley charity,” said Chapa. “That he was part of the team and an important reason we were able to win makes it all the more special.”

Villanueva’s daughter, Valentina, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma cancer in 2013 and underwent treatment for it at the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer Center and Hematology Clinic in McAllen.  In August of 2015, Valentina was granted her wish to see the British pop group One Direction in concert and meet members of the band backstage.

The Make-A-Wish Rio Grande Valley chapter was founded in 1997.  Since that time, no child’s wish request has been delayed due to lack of funding. According to Sandlin, 92¢ out of every dollar donated to the RGV chapter last year went directly to fulfilling children’s wishes.

“We want everyone to know that every penny stays right here in the Valley for our children,” said Sandlin.

As the holiday season is the season of giving, Sandlin hopes it will also be the season of wishes – particularly for the lower Valley where increased awareness and fundraising is needed to reach families there.

PlainsCapital Bank has 14 branches throughout the Rio Grande Valley region.

About Make-A-Wish Foundation Rio Grande Valley

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children referred between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18 with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.  Thanks to the generosity of PlainsCapital Bank and wonderful people in the community who step forward to address the needs of our organization, we can continue to give our children the hope and will to fight for another tomorrow. 

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About PlainsCapital Bank

Dallas-based PlainsCapital Bank, the fifth largest Texas-headquartered bank by deposit market share, operates 64 Texas branches and has more than 1,200 employees providing highly personalized relationship banking through a single point of contact. Offering commercial lending, treasury management, small business banking, private banking, and trust and wealth management services, PlainsCapital Bank empowers responsive, local decision making in each of its major markets: Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. PlainsCapital Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hilltop Holdings (NYSE:HTH). Find more information at PlainsCapital.com.

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