EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in April edition of Women’s ProRodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is reprinted here with the WPRA’s approval.
Jordan Fabrizio has seen up close the good that has come from the Three Star Memorial Roping in Amarillo, Texas.
That’s why she’s involved and why she’ll continue to be involved in the event that honors lives lost 20 years ago and benefits rodeo’s future stars.
“This is for a scholarship-based non-profit fund,” said Fabrizio, who produces the memorial. “Some of the money raised will go to the West Texas A&M rodeo team, individual scholarships and group scholarships. We also give 10 boys and 10 girls ages 9-11 them individual $250 scholarships that goes into an account and accrues interest until they’re 18. They can then cash it out for the college of their choice.”
This year’s event featured a breakaway roping that was co-sanctioned by the WPRA. There was $10,000 in added money in the pot and 165 cowgirls involved. That made it a valuable event for all involved.
“We were able to raise $30,000 this year,” said Fabrizio, who actually utilized her $2,500 scholarship to attend West Texas A&M at the Three Star Memorial in 2009. “Last year we raised $20,000. It’s definitely been a huge blessing and has just grown incredibly.
“I’m pretty sure that this is the biggest breakaway roping in the world. It was a huge event and went for 17 straight hours.”
It also was highly profitable for many ropers. Angela Bartley, who won the average with a four-run cumulative time of 12.06 seconds, earned $13,343. WPRA member Hope Thompson finished as the reserve champion, earning $6,636 in the process.
“I’m excited about how our sport of breakaway roping is growing,” said Thompson, the No. 1 cowgirl in the standings. “As a breakaway roper, that’s every girl’s dream. I couldn’t wait to compete at it. It’s not just the competition, but the fact that we had something like that to go to.
“I know Jordan had that roping last year, and I couldn’t go, so I was really pumped to be part of it this year. Jordan did a great job putting it on.”
The purse was a major attraction for the competitors.
“It was so exciting to have somebody put something on like that and have that much money up,” Thompson said. “It’s great to see the sponsors that believed in our sport enough to pitch in and add that much in breakaway roping. I think we were all excited.”
That’s the purpose of the memorial, which just celebrated its 20th year. Over the course of its tenure, it has been a team roping, a timed-event competition and a tie-down and breakaway roping. It is a way to remember the lives of three men who died in a car wreck in 1996: C.M. Kuhlman, Todd Fincher and Jody Hart.
“The Kuhlman family has been a stone in my life,” Fabrizio said. “They’ve helped me grow and accomplish my goals and my dreams. I wanted to make sure that the three boys that died in the accident had their story told, their legacy continued.
“Their lives, even though they were lost 20 years ago, have contributed to many others. I wanted to help their legacy continue on and on.”
A longtime roper, Fabrizio knows how important it is to have big events. That’s another key reason she wanted it to be co-sanctioned by the WPRA.
“Our goal was to have one of the largest breakaway ropings ever,” she said. “I wanted to target all the women in rodeo, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to compete at one of the biggest ropings ever.
“Roping is growing in the women’s world, and that’s great. I like that this is a great way to give the girls a boost in the WPRA and help them move up in the standings.”
In all, several WPRA members earned money to help them in the standings. It also served as a way for young rodeo stars to gain some critical experience. Fabrizio said the members of the West Texas A&M rodeo team were instrumental in the event’s success.
“We have an awesome support system here and an awesome team,” she said. “Our committee works hard, and the whole community is involved. We could not have made it happen without the West Texas rodeo team. They worked hard. They were the behind-the-scenes crew that made it all happen.
“When you see kids like that working that hard, it definitely makes you think you’re doing something right after all. It’s good to see they believe in it as much as we do.”
As the Three Star Memorial continues, there are plenty of believers in the annual event.
“To start out the year with a win like that always helps,” Thompson said. “We won’t have an opportunity to rope for that much money in a breakaway roping for the rest of the year.”
She’s not taking her No. 1 spot in the standings lightly. In fact, she plans to push hard through the rest of the year to earn her second WPRA world title, and she’s doing so on Ink, a 7-year-old black mare.
“She’s a little horse I bought when she was 3,” Thompson said. “I trained her. We rope calves on her, heel on her and head on her. She’s one of those great horses, and she’s good to look at. She’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses, and she likes her job.”
So do a lot of talented women who were part of the breakaway roping at the Three Star Memorial. If their bank accounts aren’t proof enough, then their smiles should be.