Weekend of roping served as a benefit for families affected by West, Texas, explosion
GROESBECK, Texas – Bobby Joe Hill paid a little more attention to the news in the days following the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
He saw that 15 people had died and more than 200 were injured, including many of the first-responders who arrived on the scene to care for others. He knew he had to do something to help the families of those affected by the blast. Being involved in rodeo, he knew just how to make it happen.
That’s why Hill, owner of Hill Rodeo Cattle, organized the Wild West Memorial, a four-day competition that featured team roping, a ranch rodeo and an open steer roping from May 24-27 at the Limestone County Fairgrounds in Groesbeck, some 45 miles southeast of West.
“We raised $7,000 for the families of the fallen first responders,” said Hill, who worked with Roger Nevil of American LNG, Chris Glick of Last Chance Designs and Johni Nevil in organizing the event. “I had hoped to make a little more for the families, but it cost a little more to put this on than I’d thought, but I wanted it to be a first-class event.
“I wanted to go big or go home, so we went big. This is just the first year. We’ve already got our dates set for next year, Memorial Day weekend, Friday to Monday.”
The “first-class event” featured 16 National Finals qualifiers, including two world champions, Scott Snedecor and Rocky Patterson. It was quite an event that just got off the ground 19 days prior to opening night.
“I felt like I was pretty blessed and that those people needed the money more than I did,” said Lawson Plemons, a team roper, tie-down roper and steer roper from Axtell, Texas. “I had a good day, and I wanted to help somebody else out.”
In all, Plemons won $5,700, two saddles and a buckle; he donated all of the money from his short go-round earnings to the families of first responders. He wasn’t the only cowboy to do so; Patterson, the three-time and reigning world champion steer roper, donated a portion of his earnings.
“Anytime you hear about some little kids losing their dad, it’s a bad deal,” Patterson said. “There were a lot of people affected, but to me, the worst of it is the kids.”
Patterson pointed to one family that lost the father, who had three children and whose wife was expecting their fourth. Now that mother will raise four children as a single mother.
“Those people will need this kind of help every year,” he said.
That’s why Hill is looking toward the future.
“We were able to raise a lot of money in a few days with just Facebook advertisements,” said Hill, who supplies roping cattle to numerous ProRodeos throughout the year, including the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. “I was very pleased with the turnout.”
He wasn’t the only one. In addition to the donations, there were several others who were involved in some capacity. In fact, top ProRodeo announcers Charlie Throckmorton and Curt Robinson and rodeo judges donated their time and talent to call the action for the introduction of ropers and the steer roping, as did Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association judge Brad Bettis and Cowboy Professional Rodeo Association judge Joey Jobe.
“You’ve got to do something to try to help those people,” Robinson said. “Bobby Joe was going to all that work trying to put it together, and I felt like it was an honor to trying to help somebody out.”
That was a common theme.
“We got a lot of help from Tara Shepperd and John Costlow, who announced during the team ropings and did all the work that went on in the entry office,” Hill said. “They played a big part in keeping this event rolling.”
Of course, there were a lot of people who stepped up and helped out, including the sponsors: A Cut Above Buckles, Centex Oilman’s Association, Cardinal Energy, Cactus Saddlery, Vaquero Energy, Utley Cattle Co., Aqua Transfer Energy, Buffalo Livestock Auction, Hill Rodeo Cattle, Jason Smith, Carr Pro Rodeo, Stace Smith Pro Rodeos, Andrews Rodeo Co., Frontier Rodeo Co., Champion Rodeo Co., Hat Brand Rodeo Co., Pickett Pro Rodeo, J-J Rodeo Co., Brent Bennett Rope Horses, Serna Services, Fire It Up Team Roping Prod, Brandon Holliman, Gaines Horse Shoeing, Seth Sawyer, Crazy Heart Sound and Lighting, Cowboy Tack Collection, Eloy Perez, Groesbeck Auction & Livestock, Winters Oil Partners, Bearcat Oilfield Services, Caney Creek Hunting Lodge, Double J Water Well, Bodie Services, Rafter G Sales, Wrangler, Clayton and Kasey Wood, 3W Ranch Supply, Custom Hose, Dew Tire Shop, Dane Noyce, Last Chance Designs and Big Daddy Productions.
In addition to all those who made the Wild West Memorial a big part of their business, there were others who stepped up to the plate. More team ropers participated than expected, and there were 21 teams in the ranch rodeo. It was a powerful show of the giving nature that burns deep inside cowboys.
“It’s something we need to do,” Throckmorton said. “Tragedy can strike us anytime, and we knew we needed to be there. That’s the reason we did it. Curt Robinson was already down here at another event, and he is the guru of all steer roping announcers.
“It was a first-class deal, and we tried to make it like the National Finals.”
That’s a tribute to Hill and those who helped him organize the event in less than 20 days.
“People thought it was really good for him to put it together on the last minute,” Plemons said. “It was a good roping to watch, but he made it good.”
That was one of Hill’s goals; his primary purpose was to provide funds to those who need it most.
“I want to thank everybody who even offered to help out, because we couldn’t have done it without them,” Hill said. “I’ve put on team ropings and provided stock for a lot of rodeos, but it was a little bit different putting on an event like this. I’m really glad we did this, though, and I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Wild West Memorial
Steer roping: First round: 1. Lawson Plemmons, 11.6, $1,650; 2. Walter Preistly, 12.2, $1,250; 3. Mike Chase, 12.4, $820; 4. J.P. Wickett, 12.9, $430. Second round: 1. Chet Herren, 9.5, $1,650; 2. Jim Locke, 11.2, $1,250; 3. Lawson Plemmons, 11.3, $820; 4. Tony Renia, 11.8, $430. Third round: 1. Bryce Davis, 10.5, $1,650; 2. Rocky Patterson, 10.8, $1,250; 3. Bobby Joe Hill, 10.9, $820; 4. Ty Herd, 12.5, $430. Short round: 1. Chet Herren 11.3, $800; 2. Bobby Joe Hill, 11.9, $625; 3. Jim Locke, 13.2, $425; 4. Rocky Patterson, 13.3, $225. Average: 1. Lawson Plemmons, 1.4, $2,425; 2. Joe Wells, 54.9, $1,825; 3. Rocky Patterson, 60.5, $1,225; 4. Will Gasperson, 67.0, $750.
No. 8 roping: Average winners: Cody Whicher/Isaac Serna. Saddle winner: Curtis Creager.
No. 9 roping: Average winners: Royce Glider/Isaac Serna. Saddle winner: Isaac Serna.
No. 11 roping: Average winners: Shane Winters/Andrew Hill. Saddle winner: Andrew Hill.
No. 12 roping: Average winners: Steve Henderson/J.W. Cotton. Saddle winner: Eric Moody.
Ranch rodeo champions: Colby Lovell, Brian Leathers, Jake Conrad and Skeeter Ramsey.