GUYMON, Okla. – In his lifetime, Craig Latham has handled the rankest beasts in rodeo, able to use his tremendous athletic talent and will as one of the best saddle bronc riders in the history of the sport.
Now Latham might be in the toughest ride of his life, a battle with plasmacytoma, a treatable type of cancer for which a tumor was removed during a surgery June 9 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. More treatment is planned for Latham, the rodeo coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University who qualified nine times for the National Finals Rodeo.
Now friends, fans and rodeo supporters are producing a benefit event to raise money for the Craig Latham Medical Fund at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at Bob’s Cowboy Bar and Rodeo Room in Guymon. Donations will be accepted at the door. Ken Stonecipher’s Wooden Nickel Band will begin playing at 9 p.m. The Craig Latham Medical Fund has been established at Bank of the Panhandle, and donations may be sent to Bank of the Panhandle, P.O. Box 2180, Guymon, OK 73942.
“We want to reach out to Craig and his family and show that we’re ready to fight this fight with them,” Stonecipher said. “Rick Furnish is generously donating the use of Bob’s and will donate part of the proceeds to the fund-raiser, and we’re going to play so people can come out to Bob’s, have a great time and help the Lathams ease a little of the financial burden of this treatment.”
Latham opted for the well known Baltimore hospital after researching the best neurosurgeons in the world.
“When I rodeoed, I traveled with the best guys and I rode the best bucking horses because I wanted to win,” Latham said. “When I started dealing with this, I wanted the best doctors because I intend on winning.”
When the Lathams learned about further treatment being planned for July, friends began putting together the benefit. Within a day, the July 9 festivities were set in motion.
“Craig and Lori have done so much for that community, for Panhandle State rodeo and for their friends that we can never repay them,” said Lynette Harbin, a friend of the Lathams. “I hope this is a good way for us to give back just a little.”
That kind of reflection means a lot to the family.
“I give the credit to God and our amazing friends and family for helping us get to Baltimore and for sticking with us through this journey,” Lori Latham said. “The prayers and the thoughts and all the things everyone is doing … that’s what’s going to get Craig through this, and we appreciate it more than we can ever say.”