Benavides—Smack dab in the middle of south Texas sits the small town of Benavides. Things are pretty quiet on this part of 359, but if you keep your eyes peeled when pulling into town, you can’t help but notice a signed dedicated to 6-time world champion baton twirler. Being the inquisitive crew that we are, we had to stop by to get the story, so we strolled into Louie’s restaurant where the town was happy to tell us the tale of Bonnie Palacios.
“We see that sign every time we pass by,” said Luis Beto Garza.
“That sign right there is Palacios, Bonnie Palacios sign,” explained Juan Garcia.
“The community, the county, is very proud to have a six-time World Champion,” confirmed Romeo Ramirez, the town’s sheriff.
It didn’t take long for us to find Bonnie’s parents, Oralia and Delio Palacios.
“She did something nobody else has been able to accomplish here in this little town. And well I could say I have a beautiful daughter.” said Bonnie’s mother, Oralia Palacios.
Oralia was 16 and Delio was 21 when they got married.
“And we’re still together,” said Oralia.
These long time love birds have three kids to their credit and their youngest is Bonnie.
“Lots of people, believe it or not, stop and ask, ‘hey, who’s this little girl?'” she said.
Known for her red hair, Bonnie started twirling at two and half when she used to watch her sister do the same at the high school across from her parent’s house.
“She automatically got into it, I mean, she was just very flexible and she starts spinning like you wouldn’t believe it…Just natural,” expressed Oralia.
“Anybody can go to college and be a doctor…It just takes time, it takes money,” said Delio, “but this is different. This is talent.”
Oralia and Delio nurtured Bonnie’s talent, and it didn’t take long for the little girl who just came out the cradle to correctly execute one.
“At the age of six she was already competing for the World Championship,” said Oralia.
“She’d practice all day long, ’til dark,” said Benavides local, Luis.
“I would constantly see her training out there at her parents’ house,” confirmed Sheriff Ramirez.
“Everybody’s got a special talent…what he is good for or what she is good for,” said Bonnie’s father, Delio.
From 1980 to 87, Bonnie was unstoppable. Earning title after title. Eventually, she went on to teach baton twirling all over the world and even performed with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas before an injury ended her career—but that doesn’t mean she still can’t toss a few.
“Everybody who’s grown up with me calls me Bonnie, and from twenty-two on, they call me Ivonne,” explained the famed baton twirler.
We found Yvonne living far from home in central Texas.
“She lives in Wimberley, Texas,” said Oralia.
Ivonne explains that she is proud of her past and of the sign in Benavides.
“As I go home and visit and I meet people who tell me stories of stopping by, or driving by and taking pictures, and how they see that every single time they drive by…it makes me feel pretty amazing,” she said, “I love it there. I always…I want it to stay there forever, if it’s at all possible.”
Her dad, Delio, does everything he can to make his little girl’s dream come true, just like he did all those years ago. He does his best to maintain and upkeep the sign.
“Well I’m old now and I can barely climb it,” he explained, “it meant the world for me.”
“That sign is…who I am and who I’ll always be” expressed Ivonne, “and I don’t want to get emotional… sorry”
It was at that moment, all the practices, all the work, and all the memories came back to her.
“Yes, so I’ve put in lots of hours, lots of dedication, lots of sacrifices to at least have a sign,” she continued, “I go back and nobody forgets, nobody forgets me, nobody forgets my family, nobody forgets what I’ve done and I just always want…I always want them to be proud.”
“We’re still poor and I don’t care. I don’t care because, when I’m dead and my wife also, what we had to do with our children,” explained Delio, “when we’re gone, we left behind something good. The work we had to do.”
Every Texas town has something their proud of. A local eatery or a unique attraction, but Benavides has Bonnie, and Bonnie has her parents.
“I just appreciate, with my whole heart, everything that they did,” she explained, “funds were not easily available and they drove every week, twice a week to Corpus – an hour and a half – taking me to lessons. They sold barbecue plates, they made bingos, they made dances, they made raffles, they did anything and everything to try and get me the funds to be able to go to these competitions.”
“I believe we’re on this planet to really work with the children,” said her dad, Delio, “if you can do those things, you’re a good parent, man. You did your job.”
“I am eternally grateful, forever grateful,” expressed Ivonne “I could never, ever repay them for everything that they’ve done for me. Ever.”
So stop by Benavides to get a quick lunch at Louie’s and see the sign dedicated to a story that culminates with hard work and family.
“We love the family, we love Bonnie,” said Luis.
“It’s an honor, it really is,” confirmed Sheriff Ramirez.
“If you work hard enough, you can achieve any goal you like,” said another town member, Raul Oliveira.
“We’re not in Middle America, we’re coming from a very small community, we had a girl that went from this small community, made it big time, went World Champion. You don’t hear that from little, small communities like this,” Juan expressed.
“To know who I am, what I’ve done with my life, how Benavides played a role in that, how the people of Benavides played a role in that,” said Ivonne, “they played a little bit more of a role than they ever believe.”