Ropers Sports News | January-February 2023

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS PAGE 45 American Military Celebration Showcases Camaraderie FORT WORTH, TEXAS (Nov. 7, 2022) – What started in 2016 as a team roping school has turned into a four-day event that features dramatic roping competition. Charly Crawford’s idea for a free roping school for the military has grown into the Hi l lwood Land and Cat t le American Military Celebration presented by Douglas Allred Company. It is an extravaganza of roping and fundraising activities. This year it started at NRS Arena in Decatur with the Horns ’N Heroes roping school for military and first responders sponsored by Garrett/Gowan, Joplin Stockyards, Integrity Team Roping Production and J5 Quarter Horses. There were two days of learning with Crawford leading the headers and Trey Johnson leading the heelers followed by a friendly competition. That was all preparation for Friday’s preliminary Military First Responder Roping sponsored by Flat Tail Ranch and Driver Land & Cattle. Many of today’s top professional ropers competed in Friday’s Open Roping sponsored by Javelin. Then those same professionals paired up military and first responders in the Mil/Pro Roping sponsored by Kinetic Vet and Quanta. On Saturday action moved to Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth for the NFR Showdown sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. The final activity was the AMC Gala at The 81 Club at Billy Bob’s Texas where a live auction was held. “It amazes me how people have responded to this event,” Crawford said. “I started it as a way to give back. I didn’t know I was gaining a new family. From our corporate partners to our participants, it’s turned into a brotherhood.” Three years ago, AMC used their event as a fundraiser for charities that support those who serve. This year $160,000 was raised. It will support Building Homes for Heroes who has received approximately $200,000 in the past two years. In 2022, they also added the Fort Worth chapter of Brotherhood For the Fallen. The Mil/Pro saw 21-yearold Andrew Shelton heading for Trey Yates for the win. The $3,800 didn’t compare to the experience that Shelton had. He grew up in Blanco, Texas, joined the Army, was deployed to the Middle East and returned in September. He is now part of the Army Reserves and is going to school at Texas A & M University. “I don’t really rope,” Shelton said. “I did when I was younger and heard about this and had to come. It’s pretty cool how you get to be paired up with the pro guys. Lucky for me my brother ropes and had a horse for me. This is just awesome.” In heeling, it was J.R. Berry that got to rope behind Kaleb Driggers for the win. Berry has been a firefighter for 18 years. He is a lieutenant in Blanco County. When Texas was hit in the spring with major grass fires, he was on 107 of those. Berry used lessons he learned from Johnson in the school to help him get the win. “Roping with these pro guys and seeing how they handle cattle was amazing,” he said. “It’s been a ton of fun. I took a lot away from Trey’s school. The guys at the fire station are going to be real excited.” In the Open Roping, Driggers took home checks in the top three spots and two of them were for heeling. He won first place with Jr. Dees heading, worth $6,300 for the team. Then he got the second-place J.R. Berry (with saddle) won the AMC Mil/Pro heeling title roping behind Kaleb Driggers (l). Presenting is Charly Craword, American Military Founder and Christy Snowden, Legend Tack & Silver. – AMC Photo by Clay Craig Junior Nogueira (left) and Kaleb Driggers (c) split $20,000 for first place in the AMC Showdown. Presenting is Charly Crawford. –AMC Photo by Click Thompson check heading for Brazilian Vitor De Silva. His third-place win came behind Cory Kidd. When action started at Cowtown Col iseum there were 13 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo teams along with two teams from the Open Roping. Between rounds of the professionals, the top 15 from the Military First Responder Roping had their finals. And just for fun, the finals of the Stray Gathering sponsored by Wrangler were held. It featured teams of four who had to rope, tie, gather and pen three steers. The big winners in the roping were Shawn Carrell and Justin Long who each earned $10,000, plus Elite Saddles and Legend Tack and Silver buckles. Carrell and Long met for the first time on Friday and now will be life-long friends. Just for fun, competitors also participated in the Stray Gathering sponsored by Wrangler. “Not only is this the first saddle I’ve ever won, it’s my first check,” Carrell, who is a game warden in New Mexico. “I just started roping about 10 months ago and I can’t tell you how amazing this is.” Justin, who is a lineman, started coming to the event three years ago. He volunteered during this year’s clinic and participated in 2020. “I’ve learned so much from Charly and Trey,” he said. “It’s a great thing they have going and I come every year.” The final results of the NFR competition again saw Driggers at the top, but this time it was with his regular partner Junior Nogueira. They were one of three teams that were successful on all five runs and split $20,000 for first place. “Somet imes we take for granted that what we get to do everyday is something that a lot of these guys are passionate about too,” Driggers said. “We are forever indebted to them, so to be able to rope with them gives us a chance to give a little bit back. It’s amazing. I love everything about this roping, but especially getting the chance to interact with people that we wouldn’t normally. Seeing the smiles on their faces is what is really important to me.” 21-year-old Andrew Shelton just got back from deployment in September and had hardly picked up a rope in years. He did the heading for Trey Yates to win the Mil/Pro heading championship. Presenting is Charly Craword, American Military Founder and Christy Snowden, Legend Tack & Silver. – AMC Photo by Clay Craig Junior Nogueira and Kaleb Driggers teamed up to win the AMC Showdown. – AMC Photo by Click Thompson

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