Darryl Bruffett honored with Gracie Award for story of A&M track star overcoming human trafficking

“Traditionally the worst thing I talk about is losing a game or an injury. That pales in comparison to human trafficking.”
KBTX Live at Five(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:58 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - During the summer of 2022, KBTX shared the story of a Texas A&M athlete and her mother who overcame human trafficking. On March 30, 2023, the Alliance for Women in Media announced that KBTX’s Sports Director Darryl Bruffett had won a Gracie Award for his coverage of this story.

Deshae and Rebecca’s story

In June, Texas A&M track star Deshae Wise was headed to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. She was wrapping up her collegiate track career in her home state of Oregon. While this itself was a newsworthy accomplishment, it was the student athlete’s journey to that point that made her story even more impressive.

Deshae Wise and her mother Rebecca Bender survived nearly a decade of human trafficking, but their story is one of perseverance.

The two left Oregon when Bender was 18-years-old and Wise was one. The young mother was forced into prostitution and drugs over the next several years. Bender survived being traded to several traffickers before she and her daughter were able to escape on Dec. 31, 2007.

Deshae Wise went on to find success as a student athlete, and her mother Rebecca Bender is now an accomplished author, a social activist, thought leader and consultant who equips professionals and organizations to identify and fight human trafficking.

Bruffett is honored to have helped share their story even though he was hesitant at first.

“Traditionally the worst thing I talk about is losing a game or an injury. That pales in comparison to human trafficking,” he said.

Ultimately he choose to take on the story because, “anytime we get an opportunity to share someone’s story of perseverance and survival it’s important to do.”

Read Darryl Bruffett’s original story here.

The Gracies

The Gracies are national awards that recognize exemplary programming created by women, for women and about women in all facets of media and entertainment. They also acknowledge the individuals who have made inspirational contributions to the industry.

Bruffett says he’s proud to be in the company of the other winners who include singer and “1883″ actress Faith Hill and “Yellowstone” actress Kelly Reilly.

This is KBTX’s second year in a row to win a Gracie Award.

Watch Darryl Bruffett and Rusty Surette discuss the story and the award in the player above.