DE LEON, Texas – Providing veterans and first responders opportunities to experience the Western way of life had been a mission for the American Military Celebration (AMC) founded by National Finals Rodeo header Charly Crawford.
Crawford wanted a way to give back to his heroes so he started by providing them free roping lessons. It has grown into a school followed by a roping with other top competitors from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, then a roping exclusive for veterans and first responders.
Crawford, along with the AMC board of directors are working to expand their programs and offer new opportunities for these servicemen and women. On Sunday, May 22, 2022 that went into full effect when they hosted the first-ever United We Brand event.
“Branding is a community event for a lot of ranchers,” Crawford explained. “We have a community of service people that love the Western way of life so we wanted them to have more chances to experience it in an authentic way. We found local ranchers and started planning a day to work cattle.”
Those ranchers, Tyler Schnaffer and Lance Inderman, are raising corriente cattle that are used for team roping and steer wrestling. The property is owned by Mark and Ryan Sides and is southwest of Stephenville, Texas, that Crawford calls home.
“This area has supported me from the beginning of this endeavor,” Crawford said. “We moved our roping school and events to NRS in Decatur last year, so we wanted to have something in this area and we wanted to give the guys a chance to be cowboys outside of the competition arena.”
Mission accomplished with the United We Brand event where the activities started by gathering pairs, getting them in a pen and sorting the calves off of the cows. Then the calves got ear tags, were vaccinated and had other treatments before they were put back in the pasture.
“What we see as a result of participating in the branding, teamwork, leadership and camaraderie are all things experienced in the military or as a first responder.” said Bill Force, who has a background in the military as well as law enforcement. “Giving military people an opportunity to have cowboy experiences is a natural fit. I saw that firsthand at the branding and heard many comments from others that were involved. It was a great day and we have a lot of people that can’t wait to do it again.”
Some of those people will get to have a cowboy experience over the Memorial Day Weekend as American Military Celebration will be participating in the Hood County Stampede Xtreme Bareback Riding on Saturday, May 28. Participants will be riding in opening ceremonies behind flags representing their branches.
Then plans will be going full force to prepare for the annual roping school, free for military veterans and first responders, the pro-am roping and the military roping. Those events will be held October 26 – 30. Most of the activities will be held at NRS Arena in Decatur.
For more information on the American Military Celebration, visit their website or follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AmericanMilitaryCelebration