ST. MARTIN, Miss. (WLOX) - For over a decade, a Jackson County woman has poured her heart into helping people and animals throughout the Gulf Coast. Now, as she battles a terminal illness, the community she has supported for so long is trying to show her how much she is loved and appreciated.
A celebration of life party was held Saturday for Helene Hicks of Vancleave. As friends gathered at the St. Martin Community Center, eagerly awaiting their hero, emotions were already building.
A barrage of thunderous applause and calls echoed through the community center as Helene was brought in.
Helene the founder of Pink Pawz Spay and Neuter, a nonprofit that has helped fix over 11,000 animals, providing the service at low to no cost for people. The organization is especially helpful for people who are disabled or elderly that may not be able to transport their pets to the vet or afford the fees.
But that’s only the tip of what Helene has done since forming Pink Pawz. She has hosted numerous festivals for the community with vendors from across the coast to help raise money for her nonprofit. Those funds have also helped pay for several clinics where pets could get low-cost rabies shots and microchips.
Reminiscing on her many achievements, her friends gathered around her Saturday, lifting her up in love and prayer.
Helene’s sister Lynn Tadej expressed her sincere love and admiration for all her sister has accomplished.
“She’s been the most caring, giving, loving person I’ve ever known. For her to neuter and spay 8,000 animals in 11 1/2 years. I just love her for everything she’s done.”
Helene’s strong spirit and love for animals has been a shining light for so many in South Mississippi, especially other rescue organizations that help animals across the coast.
“She has just touched so many lives and her love for animals is beyond comprehension,” said Missy Dubuisson with Wild At Heart Rescue. “We will continue her legacy and make sure these animals are spayed and neutered, or we will hear from her for a long time to come.”
While Helene was blessed with many gifts, it was a cherished song that truly put a twinkle in her eye and a smile across her face by longtime friend Richie Jones. Jones is a country singer who has had a national acclaim. Helene says she is his biggest fan. She even ran his fan club for several years.
Richie and Helene met before he became a signed artist so he said there was no hesitation whatsoever when he was asked to sing for her at the celebration of life party.
“Helene came into my life many years ago and if she wants me to sing, then that’s what I’m gonna do,” he said proudly.
When asked if her legacy will be continued, an enthusiastic Hero Hicks catchphrase was shouted:
Helene has appeared many times on WLOX over the last 10+ years. Watch below to see a recap of some of her appearances highlighting the amazing work she has done for animals on the Coast.