Charly Crawford’s American Military Celebration raised enough money to build four mortgage-free homes for veterans through the non-profit Building Homes For Heroes Oct. 26-Oct. 31, 2021, more than doubling what was raised in the inaugural event the year prior.
“I never in a million years would have thought I’d be able to build four homes in one event for disabled veterans,” Crawford, who roped at 10 National Finals Rodeos, said. “It’s an event that’s beyond me and beyond a roping. Just the amount of calls I’ve had with these guys telling me this is the greatest day of their life, how this is keeping them alive, how this is what they live for. Having an event they can take their minds off the things they’re battling with, that’s more than a roping. You feel it when you’re there.”
The event kicked off at NRS in Decatur, Texas, with a free roping school Oct. 26 for veterans and families wanting to learn the basics of roping, and followed up with a more advanced school Oct. 27-28 for veterans, active military and first responders. The following days were filled with a variety of ropings, a military Pro-Am and an NFR Showdown with many of the top 15, with all proceeds going to Building Homes for Heroes. Crawford also hosted a live auction, where they sold a variety of high-value items, including breedings to Show Me The Buckles and Justa Swinging Gypsy.
“We had more than 120 teams in the military roping, and they’re telling me that’s the largest all-military roping in the country,” Crawford said. “And it will only keep growing. NRS said it was one of the greatest events they’d ever had there. They got behind us and supported us. To call us and want to be a part of it and see what we’re doing, that’s something special. It’s a great facility and a great place to do it. There’s nothing like having an event where they want you there. It was great.”
Trevor Brazile and Miles Baker made a surprise appearance Oct. 28, doing a special horsemanship workshop with clinic attendees.
“That’s absolutely the least we could do,” Brazile said. “It was an honor for us to spend the afternoon with those men and women who’ve given so much to us and for us.”
Brazile and Baker’s stallion, Show Me The Buckles, raised $5,700 in the live auction for Building Homes For Heroes, and Brazile also paired with Trey Johnson—who joined Crawford in the clinic—to win the NFR Showdown qualifier.
“It was so fun to see Trevor and Trey rope together,” Crawford said. “Trey’s always been talented enough to rope in the Thomas & Mack against best ropers in the world, but as a preacher, he had another calling. I couldn’t be happier to see him, with as much work as he’s done for these guys, roping in that setup. These are free schools we do. We’ve been doing this for eight years and everything is free. Trey’s been right there alongside me the last five or six years, so to see him compete was so worth it.”
Paying It Forward
NFR Average Champ and AQHA World Champion Heeler Trey Yates won the #13.5 at the AMC with Kembe Hulstein, and for the win he got a unique trophy buckle. But Yates chose to pass the buckle on to Bubba Stewart, a Vietnam veteran who attended the clinic.
“The buckle was going to be one-of-a-kind because it was recognizing the military,” Yates explained. “I was really proud of that buckle, and in my mind I was hoping by the grace of God I’d win another someday. So if I could give it away to make somebody’s day and give back a little bit to somebody who fought for our country to give us our freedom, that’s what I wanted to do. In return, I got presented a coin—a Challenge Coin—that Charly and another veteran gave to me.”
In the military, challenge coins are proof that you are a member of a unit or served on a specific tour of duty.
Crawford hopes to make his 2022 school and roping bigger and better, in hopes that he can continue to help Building Homes For Heroes. If you’d like to make a direct donation to Building Homes For Heroes, click here. TRJ