Wise County’s Million-Dollar Bull Ride

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, September 27, 2017
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Over the 14 years of the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge, its volunteer organizers have battled rain and recession to raise $1,063,907 for donation to nearly five dozen charitable organizations in Wise County.

The $104,307 given in 2017 has boosted the grand total over the much-anticipated million-dollar mark.

WC Challenger Charities was founded to host a one-night Professional Bull Riders event in late spring at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Decatur.

On that Saturday night in 2004, WCCC raised $33,500. This year’s bull-riding figure alone is $57,307.

Four years ago, WCCC’s Eighter From Decatur Barbecue Challenge began cooking at the Reunion grounds. In 2017, it brought in $22,000 for charities.

Still another WCCC effort called “1000 Miles Till Home” has helped the Military Warriors Support Foundation provide a mortgage-free home to a deserving armed-services veteran for a 16th time.

WCCC co-founders were businessmen Wendell Berry Jr., Calvin Jackson, Andrew Rottner and the late Roy Young. WCCC funds a scholarship in his memory.

Alan Sessions has assumed Young’s volunteer duties.

Recently when “appreciation checks” were presented to organizations that make the bull ridings possible, Rottner noted that “this event just doesn’t happen overnight.

“It’s a year-round, purely volunteer effort that brings 4,000 people to Decatur, and it requires a lot of dedicated helpers,” he pointed out.

Jackson added: “Our volunteers make it happen but our loyal sponsors are who allow it to happen, and we cannot thank them enough.”

Helpful Organizations

HELPFUL ORGANIZATIONS – WC Challenger Charities rewards those who help stage the JW Hart PBR Challenge. WCCC’s Andrew Rottner (left) and Wendell Berry Jr. present checks to Cross Timbers A&M Club’s Jared Laaser and Decatur Rotary Club’s John Lanier. Rotarians have earned $17,400 since 2005 and the Aggies $16,050 since 2007. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Rescuing The Animals

RESCUING THE ANIMALS – Andrew Rottner presents a check to Momo the Lemur, a new resident of the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE), which provides a permanent home in Bridgeport for 50 exotic animals in need. WCCC has given $6,000 to CARE. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Medical Foundation

MEDICAL FOUNDATION – Since 2006, WC Challenger Charities has contributed $32,500 to the Wise Health Foundation. Alan Sessions (left) and Wendell Berry Jr. present a check to WHF representatives Linda Johnson, Donna Stowers, Bill Brimmer, Brian Stephens and Allen Williamson. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

College Scholarship

COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP – Eighter From Decatur BBQ Challenge director Wade Watson presents Debra Walker with a donation to the Roy Young Memorial Scholarship. Her late brother was a founder of WC Challenger Charities. The scholarship fund now totals $40,000. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

United Way

UNITED WAY – Martin Woodruff, executive director of United Way of Wise County, accepts $25,000 from Wendell Berry Jr. of WC Challenger Charities. With them is UW President Mike McQuiston. WCCC raised the money at its J.W. Hart PBR Challenge bull riding. Over the event’s 14 years WCCC has given $349,000 to United Way. It also has given $60,500 to the Rider Relief Fund that aids injured rodeo performers. Photo courtesy Barbara Haley


WARM – Over four years, WC Challenger Charities has given $40,000 to Wise Area Relief Mission, represented by Marye Nella Armes. With her is WCCC’s Andrew Rottner. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Decatur Does Its Part

DECATUR DOES ITS PART – WC Challenger Charities’ Wendell Berry Jr. (left) and Andrew Rottner present “thank you” checks to Jacob Baker of the Decatur Church of Christ back-to-school effort ($3,000 total donations), Vic Morton for Decatur Cares ($5,000 since 2014 for its children’s summer meals program) and to Will Klose of the Texas Ramps Project ($4,000). Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Straw Hat Volunteers

STRAW-HAT VOLUNTEERS – Alan Sessions (left) and Calvin Jackson present WCCC checks to Scott Simon and Jordon Jenkins of the Decatur Rodeo Club ($6,250 earned over six years) and to Homer Mundy of the Paradise Buyers Association ($4,000 over four). In addition, WCCC has given $6,250 to Decatur FFA and $30,200 to the Decatur Youth Fair Buyers Association, a participant all 14 years in the nationally-recognized PBR event. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Because Pets Matter

BECAUSE PETS MATTER – Barbecue Challenge director Wade Watson presents checks to Shelly Sessums of Wise County Animal Shelter Buddies and Brenda Argraves of Chewy’s Hope. WCCC has donated $6,000 total to shelter supporters and $1,000 to first-time participant Chewy’s. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Supporting Wise Efforts

SUPPORTING WISE EFFORTS – Calvin Jackson (left) and Andrew Rottner presents checks to Mike Martinez and Willie Garrett of Wise County Emergency Medical Service, for a WCCC total of $3,500 since 2004. Accepting $1,000 for a second year for use of the county fairgrounds are Wise County Judge J.D. Clark and Special Projects Manager Glenn Hughes. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Freedom s Defenders

FREEDOM’S DEFENDERS – Alan Sessions (left) and Calvin Jackson thank the Wise County Veterans Group with a WCCC check presented to Commander Bob Johnson, Melvin Lester and Ed Kitchen. They have earned $12,650 since 2005, the second year of the bull riding. A separate local organization, 1000 Miles Till Home, has assisted the national Military Warriors Support Foundation in providing 16 mortgage-free homes to armed-forces families. WCCC co-founder Wendell Berry Jr. heads the Wise County effort. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Helping Rebuild Lives

HELPING REBUILD LIVES – Representing 1000 Miles Till Home, Andrew Rottner, Alan Sessions, Calvin Jackson and Wendell Berry Jr. present $6,000 to Sharon Satterwhite and Jazz of Patriot Paws, which provides service dogs at no cost to disabled veterans. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

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