When word got out to Lari Dee Guy that the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association had a sponsorship shortfall for the breakaway roping at the Texas Circuit Finals Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, the sport’s leading ladies stepped up in a big way. Within 24 hours, that shortfall was overcome, and then some.
The barrel racing at the Texas Circuit Finals in Waco is set to pay a $3,500 committee purse, a $3,000 WPRA purse, plus over $15,000 in sponsor dollars, paying down four holes in each of the three go-rounds and the average.
The breakaway—before Guy, Kelsie Chace, Hope Thompson and JJ Hampton had anything to do with it—was set to add $3,000 from the committee, $1,000 from the WPRA and “TBD” sponsor money. The fees for the breakaway ropers also included $25 more in stock charge than in the barrel racing.
“Lari Dee found out we needed $17,100 to get equal money,” Hampton said. “I made a post on Facebook and shared it. I knew people in business might have to spend some money after they checked their taxes at the end of the year. No one really responded to that post at first, and then Sunday morning I decided to call Bill Fick and I asked him. He said ‘How much do you need within reason?’ I told him $2,500, and he said, ‘Let’s do $5,000.’ Whitney DeSalvo donated $1,000 from Broken H Farms, and Kelsie Chace got $2,000, and Hope got $2,500 from Nothin’ But Neck. Martha Angelone asked Purina, and they donated a ton of feed that we auctioned off. We got $850 for that, which will help us cover the 6% of the sponsor money we have to give to the PRCA. And Equine Exchange donated $500, too.”
For Cinch Jeans’ Director of Marketing Jessica Wahlert, the choice to add the money was simply about doing what’s right.
“We’re excited that breakaway ropers are seeing new opportunities, but the opportunities are with contingencies right now,” Wahlert said. “We want be a part of making sure the athletes who are competing now are able to rope at the same big money provided in the other events. If you go to a youth rodeo, it’s easy to see that the competition in the breakaway roping is as strong as the barrel racing or team roping on entries. We want to see those youth ropers have opportunities, without contingencies, when they reach that professional level.”
The Texas Circuit hosted the largest number of breakaway rodeos in the PRCA/WPRA schedule with 33.
“I don’t like asking people for money, but at the end of the day, if somebody doesn’t step up and be a leader and help us get this done, nobody will,” Hampton said. “I’m a bull-by-the-horns kind of person. If I didn’t ask people for the money in their pocket, they’d still have the money in their pocket. They might tell you no, but they might tell you yes. If I don’t ask, I won’t know. It’s amazing how many people are behind us. I’m not afraid to hear no. Lari Dee gives me ideas, and I put them into action.”
Getting equal money at the ProRodeos has been a battle Guy and Hampton have been fighting for a few years, but Guy hopes that their raising over $17,000 on a Sunday will show association leadership, and the industry as a whole, what can be done.
“On a Sunday, we raised $17,000 so we could have equal money and we had no help. Nobody else had to do anything for us, and they weren’t going to in order to get us equal money at the circuit finals,” Hampton said. “We came up with this money our own, from people who believe in the future of the sport. We shouldn’t have to do this—we’ve got jobs and horses to train and calves to rope but we’re out here raising money.”
“I go to putting numbers together, and I think if we could raise $17,000 in one day on a weekend, what could we do if we got $17,000 for 364 more days?” Guy asked. “And that was just a few of us—what if each member got $17,000 donated, how much more would our Finals have? And would they really be able to keep us out of the Thomas & Mack with that kind of sponsor support and added money? It would benefit everyone if they got hundreds of members pulling money into the associations.
“We have to get it to equal money or we have to quit fighting this, because the amateur rodeos and the WCRA make it equal money with no problem,” Guy added.