Big-hearted local businessman battling cancer surprised at birthday bash

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Wes Waller, a big-hearted local businessman who finds it hard to say no even as he battles stage four renal cell carcinoma was surprised over the weekend as hundreds turned out for a birthday bash including his first cousin, singer songwriter Wade Bowen, who interrupted a recording session to join the celebration of Waller’s 50th birthday.

Wes Waller dances with his wife, Jae, at the party. (Photo courtesy of Christy Barton)

“It doesn’t even have to be a friend of his and as much as I tell him ‘it’s OK to say no,’ he just doesn’t know that word,” said Waller’s wife, Jae, who organized the party Sunday afternoon at the Backyard Stage & Grill in downtown Waco.

In fact, she says, he organized a benefit Saturday for a friend in need.

“He goes beyond everything. I know he’s tired and fatigued from these treatments. He doesn’t show it to anyone else, but I see it,” she said.

Waller is in his third month of immunotherapy treatment for the cancer, which includes 12 treatments in two years.

But, through it all, he’s keeping a positive attitude.

“Prayer has been the most amazing therapy,” Waller said.

“I am very grateful to our community for all the thoughts and prayers.”

Bowen, who’s recording a new album in Nashville, dropped everything to fly in for the party and surprised not only Waller, but also the invited guests and even some lucky patrons who happened to be there.

“He’s done a lot for a lot of people. It’s the least I could do,” Bowen said.

After the crowd sang “Happy Birthday,” Bowen performed, joined on stage by Seth James Walker and his wife, Jessica Murray Walker.

The local band 35 South also performed while News 10 anchor Gordon Collier emceed the festivities.

Waller, a vice president for construction at UBI products, spearheaded the effort to build a wheelchair-accessible home for Waco firefighter Garth Goodwin after Goodwin was paralyzed in 2017 in a fall from a billboard while working off-duty in McGregor.

He didn’t even know Goodwin when he offered to head up the months-long project, helping to line up dozens of local businesses and individuals to pitch in.

Shortly after that, Waller heard about Layla Evetts, a then 5-year-old who had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

Although he didn’t know her at the time, he organized a “Gayla for Layla” fundraiser which grossed more than $155,000.

Waller was quick to give the credit to others.

“It was crazy,” he told KWTX at the time.

“People were definitely there for the right reasons. That’s for sure.”

Waller also serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Waco.