A Caring Bridge
Some of you will recall information in this column recently regarding the battle rodeo great Harley May was fighting with Lou Gherig’s disease. Knowing those circumstances, the grandstand needs to cheer as we announce he rode over the Great Divide on October 28th, finally free, and ready to hear Clem McSpadden announce him as the next bulldogger in that Big Arena. He was 82.
Ranch reared in New Mexico, Harley became a top All Around hand following his military service in World War II. He was World Champion Steer Wrestler three times, one of the first honorees to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, a founder of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and rodeo coach for many years at his alma mater Sul Ross State at Alpine, Texas. During his career he carried home championships from all the top venues – Madison Square Garden, Pendleton, Calgary, Cheyenne, Salinas and San Antonio. A full obituary can be seen at http://www.prorodeo.com/Story.aspx?xu=1414; and to send condolences to the family or share remembrances of Harley’s life you can go to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/harleymay.
That Caring Bridge organization provides priceless opportunities and links for us to communicate with and check on the condition of people we care about who are hospitalized, etc. A few weeks ago I listed the http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/julianwhitcher site for those wanting to keep up with the progress of that highly-personable young man – son of Monte and Martha Whitcher of Scenic, South Dakota, and brother of Jeremiah and Dillon. Julian became a quadriplegic in an instant on July 21st in the Cheyenne Frontier Days arena when he came off his bronc and landed on his head, fracturing the C6 and C7 vertebrae along with pinching his spinal cord.
Julian is currently undergoing vigorous rehabilitation at Craig Rehabilitation Center in Englewood, Colorado. I understand, from a close family friend, that he’s been swimming and scuba diving and working very hard to become independent and be able to return home to Scenic. According to a news article from Haakon County, a handicapped-accessible Governor’s Home was ordered for Julian, and I’ve heard it’s now at Scenic and being set up on the concrete foundation.
Monte and Martha are spending a couple of weeks at Craig with Julian to learn to care for him, then they’ll come home and if Julian and his doctors think everything is ready, he may be home in time for Thanksgiving. The doctors are not pushing this cowboy, who naturally has reservations about facing life on his own after being slammed with the sudden quantum change in his abilities and capabilities.
As always happens when there’s a need, country people and ranch folk and cowboys and small town neighbors step up and try to help out. Julian’s home region of South Dakota is no exception – there have been benefit rodeos, goat ropings, and a couple of benefit auctions around the area. However, financing the home and special van he needs for mobility and independence are huge money items, so if you can help out please address your gifts to the Julian Whitcher Fund at First Western Bank, Box 402, Wall, South Dakota 57790.
Martha Whitcher says, “Julian continues to work at physical and occupational therapy to learn life skills. His attitude is strong. Instead of riding barebacks, his drive is now to try to recreate his life. He continues to get stronger every day…” To write Julian, address your letters in his name at 3425 South Clarkson Street, Englewood, Colorado 80113.
Speakin’ of how people turn out to help those less fortunate, many of you already know that 6-year-old Jaycie West who was injured in a horse accident some months ago was granted her wish to attend Cheyenne Frontier Days and meet country music star Taylor Swift in July. Western Wishes, a program that grants wishes to terminally ill children and young adults, made that wonderful happening possible.
Now prominent horse trainer and former PRCA bull rider Chris Cox has dedicated an entire segment of his RFD-TV show Chris Cox Horsemanship to Western Wishes – and Jaycie is on that segment. It aired November 4 and 10th, and in addition to the appearance by Jaycie the segment includes Chris’s interview with ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull rider Tuff Hedeman; and with Clyde and Elsie Frost, parents of the late Lane Frost.
Little TV starlet Jaycie is the granddaughter of my friend World Champion Barrel Racer Ardith Bruce of Colorado; and the daughter of PRCA bronc rider Zack West and his barrel racing wife Amber from South Dakota. Hope you caught that show!
While we’re talkin’ about “catching shows” – here’s the info you need to catch Fox Sports Net and CBS coverage of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championshp at Dallas’ famed American Airlines Center. FSN plans to cover the entire four rounds of action, but since their broadcasts vary depending on the region you’ll need to check local listings for times and dates. As for CBS, it plans to highlight the semifinals and broadcast the entire final round at 5 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, November 23rd, following the NFL action.
You’ll also want’a be tuned in on the telly November 13th and 16th to catch “Beyond Rodeo with Susie Dobbs and Hadley Barret” on RFD-TV for interviews with contestants and rodeo committee plus action highlights from the inaugural Heartland ProRodeo Championships from Waco, Texas. You can find exact broadcast times in your area by visiting http://www.rfdtv.com.
The rearrangement of the PRCA’s traditional season – which ended in early November with rodeos like the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and more recently the Season Finale in Casper – has me totally confused. In case you’re also confused, did’ja know the champions at the recent NILE Rodeo in Tri-State Country have taken off in the lead for the 2009 PRCA race to the championship? So much for a few days off for cowboys and cowgirls… Thanksgiving at home before the NFR, etcetera…
The NILE paid out around $170,000, making it one of the larger early rodeos. Those now in the lead for 2009 include our own Brian Guthrie from Cheyenne, Wyoming in bull riding; Rusty Allen from Eagle Mountain, Idaho and Kaleb Asay of Powell, Wyoming tied for the bronc riding win; Cody DeMers of Kimberly, Idaho in bareback; Montana ropers Brady and Chase Tryan in team roping and Montana cowgirl Shelley Murphy from Helena in barrel racing; as well as Calgary, Alberta hand Lee Graves in bulldogging and Shepherd, Montana’s Travis Caldwell in tie-down roping. So, a tip of the hat for those early leaders – lots of you hail from this region… go all the way if you can!
Speakin’ of which, we’ve come “all the way” to the fuzzy end of this ol’ lariat rope once more…
© 2008 Rhonda Stearns
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