Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contestants’ days are filled with sponsor appearances, family time, and maybe a nap here and there.
On Sunday, prior to the fourth performance, a big group of them took time to spend with children who have cancer or other life-threatening diseases. The 2022 WNFR Golden Circle of Champions gave 20 kids a day away from treatment, hospitals, and doctors.
The children were joined by their families at the Tuscany Suites and Casino where they got to participate in mock rodeo events, have lunch with the contestants, walk the red carpet and get new cowboy hats, gift bags and treatment like the champions they are.
Half of the kids came from the Las Vegas area and the other half were representing rodeos across the country. One of those rodeos is held in Franklin, Tennessee, just 60 miles away from Cedar Hill where Chad Masters grew up.
It was no coincidence that Masters got paired up with Braxton Hallums, a 7-year-old boy who has been through a full year of treatment for T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. The young man who loves riding his pony and dirt bike still has another year and a half of treatment, but he has never quit doing the things that he loves.
And, it’s no surprise that he loves to rope. His mother, Tara Hallums grew up in Springfield, Tennessee, and when Masters was a kid learning to rope it was her horse that he started breakaway roping on.
“This means so much to us,” Tara Hallums said. “It’s a chance to get clear away and focus on something that we all love. To have Chad here and because he is a close family friend makes it even more special.”
Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler showed up wearing custom Warbonnet Hats made in gold for the occasion. There were several contestants in the hats that were going to wear them in the Thomas and Mack. After the rodeo they were presenting those hats to the children that they spent the afternoon with. Along with Master, Braxton Hallum also had three-time world champion Caleb Smidt by his side. Smidt was one of the contestants with the special hats that had his name as well as Braxton Hallum’s embossed in the band.
After the children had all been introduced on stage and picked up their goody bags, six contestants donated the hats that they are wearing during the competition here for auction. Richard and Buhler were among them and their two hats raised $22,000 of the $83,000 total. That money will be used to give more children a champion experience at rodeos across the country.
“It’s a real encouragement to see what these kids go through and how they keep fighting,” Masters said. “Now that I’m a dad, I have a new appreciation for what Braxton and his family are going through. I know this means a lot to them, but it means even more to me.”