It’s been a decade since the first professional bull rider at the JW Hart PBR Challenge bounced into the Sheriff’s Posse arena, and those 10 “one Saturday night a year” performances have raised $540,600 in support of Wise County’s charitable organizations.
This year event sponsor WC Challenger Charities (WCCC) donated a record $146,000, including $100,000 to the Military Warriors Support Foundation. That contribution helped provide mortgage-free, gift-tax-free homes for five veterans wounded in the Afghanistan or Iraq conflicts.
United Way of Wise County received $25,000, bringing the umbrella organization’s 10-year total to $249,000.
WCCC gave $2,500 to the Rider Relief Fund, which benefits injured bull riders. The Resistol-sponsored effort has received $50,500 in all.
Decatur Rotary Club became involved with the bull riding in 2005 and has earned $8,900 for parking cars, including $1,500 this year.
Over a six-year period Wise County Emergency Medical Services has received $1,500, including $250 in 2013.
Four thousand dollars went to a first-time recipient, the Roy W. Young Scholarship, created in memory of one of the four founders of Challenger Charities.
The veteran sales manager for James Wood Motors died unexpectedly Sept. 14, 2012, at age 49. Young, Wendell Berry Jr., Calvin Jackson and Andrew Rottner organized WCCC in 2004.
“Roy and Calvin were the original cheerleaders and driving forces in trying to make this happen,” Rottner recalled. “While we knew each other, I couldn’t say we were all real close.
“After working with Roy for nine years, I found out what a true friend he could really be. He would do anything for you, and he was the funniest entertainment we had all nine years.”
“The partnership of Wendell, Roy, Calvin and I was more like a family than a business from February through May,” he said. “I truly look forward to it every year.”
Young left large boots to fill.
Rottner said that Alan Sessions “has really stepped up this year to ensure nothing got missed. He has always been involved with our event, and this year he was our liaison with the Warriors Foundation. He did all that in addition to handling all of our concession responsibilities.
“Alan has been a tireless worker and partner for WC Challenger Charities, and we’re proud to have his assistance in an expanded role,” he said.
During the decade, at least 30 organizations have benefited from the rodeo event that tests the ability of a cowboy to ride eight seconds on an ornery mass of beef that is determined to stay unridden.
“Obviously the financial contribution of the bull riding is great for our charities,” Rottner said, while pointing out the community’s image has benefited as well.
“One of the most gratifying aspects of hosting the JW Hart PBR Challenge has been all the positive attention it has brought to Wise County,” he said. “This is a highly respected event, and this year it attracted the likes of “CBS This Morning,” which aired a five-minute segment on the bull Bushwacker and our event.
“In addition, Cord McCoy aired an hour-long segment on RFD TV that was very complimentary of the community backing this event,” the longtime civic worker noted. “The support of this community is overwhelming when it comes to good causes. There is no better place to be.”