Guest blog post by Slade Rogers, Alberta Cancer Foundation supporter and one of the Directors of Cowboys for a Cure
Over the years, many great cowboys and cowgirls have been lost to cancer.
In 2013, former bareback rider and rodeo announcer Bill Scheers was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Although he was beginning his own cancer journey, Bill wanted to make life better for other Albertans facing cancer. So he and his daughter Kylie came up with Cowboys for a Cure, an organization that would help raise funds for cancer research as well as promote awareness of cancer among those in the rodeo world.
Before long, Bill and Kylie set out on the road, visiting a number of rodeos along the Foothills Cowboys Association (FCA) circuit. They hosted small Bull Bounties, gaining support, participation and recognition from a number of cowboys. Through these efforts, Cowboys for a Cure raised $5,000 by the end of the rodeo season, donating the funds to the Tom Baker Cancer Center through the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Sadly, in the winter of 2013, Bill was bucked off life too soon. He wasn’t offered a re-ride, but this would not be the end of his vision nor his legacy.
In 2015, about a year after her father’s passing, Kylie set out to honour her father’s vision and hold an event in his memory. In the past year, Kylie had approached the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which provided support and direction in setting up a fundraising event.
At the beginning of the year, Kylie began by gathering a group of dedicated people to form a directorship for the Cowboys for a Cure. In one way or another, the members were associated with the western lifestyle, and each had their own connection to cancer.
With a short time frame for planning and gaining sponsorship (not to mention a few nay-sayers), the directors bared down, organizing a bull riding event at the Cochrane Lions Rodeo Grounds for the end of May.
The event gained the attention of Bull Riders Canada, which supported the event by bringing in great livestock as well as cowboys from around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico. The event also hosted mini chuckwagon races, trick riders, a head shave and a cowboy social to wrap things up.
Attendance for the event, even under such short notice, was greater than expected. This, along with sponsors such the Cochrane Lions Club, Bow River Paving, WeatherGuard Metals and Cochrane Dodge (to mention only a few), meant that at the end of the day, Cowboys for a Cure was able to raise
$20,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
But this was just the beginning.
Shortly after the event, Slade Rogers, photographer at DreamsAlive Imagery and one of the directors of Cowboys for a Cure, decided to dust off his spurs after 10 years away from competition, creating the companion event “Cracking Out for the Cure.”
Slade cast his fate to make eight in the bull riding event at the Dogpound Stampede, dedicating the ride to all the cowboys and cowgirls that were currently facing cancer and to those that are now riding the grand rodeo in the sky. Unfortunately, he was unable to make the date with eight, bucked off at the 2.5 second mark.
However, Slade was still able to add another $6,355 to the already impressive total raised by Cowboys for a Cure.
Through the year, Cowboys for a Cure were also able to raise awareness by attending and sponsoring a variety of events, including the Melcor Chestermere Stampede BBQ, the FCA Classic Finals Golf Tournament and the Nanton Sr. Pro Rodeo. As a result of their attendance at these events, Cowboys for a Cure gained the support and recognition of the FCA, Canadian Sr. Pro Rodeo and the Mini Bareback Association jump on board with further support and recognition.
Cowboys for a Cure presented a cheque for $26,355.00 to the Alberta Cancer Foundation at the Cochrane Labour Day Classic Rodeo, but the year is not over yet for the directors.
Slade, Lindsay and Raychel attended the FCA Cowboy Classic Final in Red Deer during the Thanksgiving weekend. Slade and Lindsay also headed to Edson the following week to represent Cowboys for a Cure at the mini bareback finals where the Mini Bareback Association made a donation back to Cowboys for a Cure.