How the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund helps our rodeo contestants
While all sports put athletes at some risk, when you include 1,200 pound animals, who (for some) you’ve had no previous experience with, the risk of injury rises. In fact, rodeo is actually considered the most dangerous sport, causing one and a half times more injuries than boxing, 10 times more than football and 13 times more than ice hockey. But unlike most professional sports, rodeo competitors don’t receive a yearly salary by signing a contract. They earn their money through competing in PRCA sanctioned rodeos throughout the year. This means that for many contestants who suffer a minor injury, you’ll see them move on to the next rodeo and still hit the dirt running. But for other contestants, their injuries may take them to the hospital and that’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund comes in.
With no real “off season” or guaranteed salary, rodeo contestants don’t have a lot of resources to use when faced with serious, sidelining injuries that may lead to long, financial hardships. So in 1990, Justin Boots came together with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) to establish the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund (JCCF). The JCCF was then granted 501-(C)(3) status as a nonprofit charity organization in 1991.
For more than 25 years, the JCCF has helped rodeo athletes and their families in the event of serious injuries resulting from rodeo related activities. The JCCF provides financial support when rodeo careers are put on pause, giving the contestants time to recover. Unlike many charities, JCCF is one of the few organizations that is able to donate 100% of the funds raised to the contestants and their families to use in their road to recovery. This can come in the form of paying for hospital bills, providing financial support towards the contestant’s family, and possibly even towards rehabilitation costs.
As of 2015, the JCCF has been able to distribute need-based financial assistance to over 1,050 injured rodeo athletes and their families. One of those athletes being our very own, St. Cloud native, steer wrestler Juan Alcazar Jr. who was injured last year while competing. Through private donations, rodeo charities and fundraisers the JCCF has been able to raise $7.5 million. Just this past April, the JCCF held its second annual Skirts and Spurs Fundraiser in conjunction with the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Kissimmee, FL.
During these types of fundraisers, community leaders and industry influencers, such as our 2015 Big Boss Jo Thacker, come together to raise money for the JCCF. Through this fundraiser, which was held in honor of Lara Dewees, a WPRA barrel racer who passed away in February as a result of injuries sustained after her run at the Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, $33,000 was raised and donated to the JCCF. This past June, we raised another $175 during our June rodeo where the Silver Spurs Club matched the amount, giving us a total of $350 to be sent to the JCCF for Lara’s family.
But the JCCF even goes beyond financial support for these contestants after their injuries. They often are a sponsor for our medical team, who are on standby at each rodeo performance. This way, if an accident does take place, they can begin to treat the hurt cowboy immediately as opposed to waiting until they get to a hospital. You can help continue to help our professional cowboys by visiting the JCCF’s website and donating online!