Texas Country Reporter turns fifty in October 2022. Each week until then, we’ll share classic episodes from the show’s history and behind-the-scenes reflections from TCR’s hosts, Bob and Kelli Phillips.

Texas Country Reporter stories come to us in a variety of ways.  A common scenario is while Bob is driving to our next story, I am sitting next to him, scouring the internet for stories that capture the passion a person has for whatever they are doing. That’s what happened in 2015 when I ran across an article in a small-town newspaper about “Chito” Martiarena. We called our producer immediately and asked him to meet us in Del Rio, Texas.

Chito was a humble man with a heart as big as Texas. Everyone in Del Rio described him as the hardest-working man in their town.

You see, Chito took it upon himself to mow the median of U.S. 90, which cut right through the middle of his hometown. It was a job that was the responsibility of the highway department and something it did only as funds were available. But Chito’s pride in the town he loved so much required him to mow that median on a regular basis.

Chito was born with muscular dystrophy, a condition that not only restricted his movement but also robbed him of his ability to speak. But, words or no, Chito’s emotions spoke volumes. We sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck while he attempted to tell me about his role taking care of his mother and family since the death of his father a few years earlier, and why this job he created for himself was so important.

Chito has never wanted a handout. He just wants to be known as a hard worker.