Some great things happened in Abilene in 2019 and we want to be sure we highlight some of the stories that make us proud to live in the Key City. 

#10: Abilene has its largest blood drive — ever

In its 9th year, the Guns & Hoses Rodney Holder Memorial Blood Drive, saw more blood donors than ever. A total of 273 people either donated blood or attempted to donate blood. The Abilene Fire Department won against the Abilene Police Department in the long-standing fun rivalry.

#9: Downtown Abilene and SoDA District continue growth

Downtown Abilene and the SoDA (South of Downtown Abilene) District saw some massive development and growth this year. The new Downtown Convention Center Hotel is also a reality with completion expected by 2022.

#8: Abilene’s CALF has biggest year yet

More than 5,000 people from 91 Texas cities and 12 states attended Abilene’s Children’s Art and Literacy Festival (CALF) in June 2019. This marked the festivals largest event to date. 2020’s festival is planned for June 11-13.

#7: #AbileneGives raises $729,000

The annual event, hosted by the Community Foundation of Abilene, helped raise more than $729,000 for 121 local non-profits. 2020’s #AbileneGives is set for May 5, 2020.

#6: ACU Men’s & Women’s Basketball teams make it to NCAA Tournament

Both Abilene Christian University (ACU) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams advanced for the first time to the NCAA tournament. This is the first time in 25 years that a school has seen both its men and women debut in the national tournament in the same year, and only the fourth time that it has ever happened. Both teams ultimately fell but represented Abilene on the national stage.

#5: Outlaws & Legends has biggest year yet

In its 9th year, the Outlaws & Legends MusicFest saw record-breaking attendance. With more people than ever, the event saw visitors from across Texas and nearly 30 other states. 2020’s event is slated for March 20-21 and Willie Nelson is headlining. Other notable country music artists will also perform: Randy Houser, Mark Powell, Kevin Fowler, Deana Carter, Radney Foster, and more.

#4: Abilene achieves functional zero for veteran homelessness

In February, Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams announced that the city had achieved functional zero for veteran homelessness. The Mayor in late 2019 issued a 100-day challenge and more than 60 veterans were housed. Abilene was the 9th city in the nation and first city in Texas to achieve this. Now, officials are working to end chronic homelessness as a whole.

#3: Dyess AFB is the home of the new B-21 Raider

Dyess Air Force Base, in March, was selected to house both the new B-21 bomber aircraft and the weapons school for it. This cements Dyess’ mission for decades to come. Abilene is known across the country as being one of the most supportive military towns.

#2: Dyess Airman sounds tornado alarm 10 mins before storm

Airman 1st Class Mary Kapuscinski, 7th Operations Support Squadron meteorologist, was recognized for an act that could have saved thousands of lives.  She sounded the Dyess Air Force Base tornado alarms nearly 10 minutes before the tornado hit.

#1: Abilene comes together to help those affected by EF-2 tornado

May 18, 2019, is a day that will live in history for Abilene. An EF-2 tornado struck the city. Miraculously, no series injuries were reported. Although many lost their homes, what ensued hours, days, weeks and months later is nothing short of amazing. Abilene residents stepped up in full force, helping their neighbors recover from the tornado. More than $150,000 was raised, thanks to a partnership between the United Way of Abilene and the Community Foundation of Abilene.

We are better together. We are #AbileneStrong.

Want more positive stories? KTAB/KRBC is committed to highlighting the good in our community. Check it out here.