KC Longbrake honored at Elshere’s clinic plus Bronc Challenge Sept. 1, Eagle Butte
September 4, 2016
Instructors at the clinic
Guest Speaker, Dustin Luper, bareback rider
Casey Breuer, Badlands Circuit Champion bareback rider
Nathan Schaper, PBR Finalist bull rider
Bud Longbrake, saddle bronc rider
Shane O’Connell, bareback rider
Jeff Bertus, circuit champion bull rider
The late KC Longbrake lives on through Bares, Broncs, Bulls and Bibles, a rough stock clinic put on by his college roommate and friend, saddle bronc rider Cole Elshere, of Faith, S.D. Elshere teamed up with a slew of fellow professional rodeo athletes to host the clinic in May at the Dupree, S.D., rodeo arena in memory of Longbrake.
This was the second year hosting the event in memory of Longbrake, who committed suicide in April 2015. Longbrake attended church occasionally with Gillette College roommates, Elshere said.
"We wanted all the young kids from the local area and anyone else who wanted to come to have the opportunity to hear the gospel and get a chance to be around cowboys who have a Christian faith and how we go about living our lives and the peace we have," Elshere said. "We don't want anyone to feel like no one cares for them because we know how much God loves us," Elshere said. "With KC committing suicide, we want kids to feel God's love and not feel as low as KC did at that moment."
KC's mother Mona Longbrake said she appreciates this event and others like it to "keep kids' minds occupied."
"I hope we can keep this clinic going in memory of KC; it offers positive thoughts, not just for kids that rodeo but kids that come watch and listen," Mona said. "I think it helps give kids a better lifestyle, outlook and confidence. (It shows them) there's somebody out there that's going to listen to you, don't give up. I wish KC would have told us how he felt, he was a man who never showed any pain."
At the age of 8, KC was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The illness postponed his rodeo career, but didn't stop him from moving cows with his dad Delbert while aboard his 16 hand Appaloosa Moe.
"With his cancer, we wanted to hold off high school rodeo, but we finally decided to let him enter. He made sure he didn't show any pain when he got bucked off and kept on trying," Mona said. "He had a will in his heart that he was going to be a good bronc rider, and proved us that he did it. He made it to Indian National Finals and won two amateur finals in the same year. He had a lot of try, heart and determination."
Gillette College Rodeo coach Will LaDuke teams up with Elshere to award one clinic participant a rodeo scholarship to Gillette College. This year's recipient is Cole Brewer. Last year's was Jake Foster.
"We want to show kids how rodeoing can benefit them in the long run. It can help them financially and allow them to pursue education as well," Elshere said. "Many kids can't afford college without scholarships, so being able to bring scholarships to them and allow them to be on competitive teams is great. Nathan [Schaper], KC and I want them to have as good of a chance as we did."
Longbrake's family members have been supportive of and active within the event the past two years. Mona made shirts for students and volunteers, Elshere said, and KC's uncle and grandfather supply rough stock for the event.
This year's free clinic welcomed 38 youth, ages 14-19. Each day concluded with a practice rodeo, free meal and sharing time.
During the clinic, students begin with ground instruction and learning about equipment. Then, they ride bucking barrels and use spur boards to gain technique before getting on live animals, Elshere said,
"From there, we bucked some horses for a while, had lunch and did our sermon for the day," he said. "We went back and bucked bulls and horses, had evening supper and there was guitar playing and devotion each day."
Clinic participants were not scored, but those with the biggest improvements were awarded prizes.
Elshere was grateful for the host of help he received to make the clinic possible including the pickup men and bull fighters, Deal family, JJ Hunt, Shorty Garrett, Joe Gunderson, Lance Bustmeister, Longbrakes, Bothwells, Schaleskeys, Aaron Brewer, Luke Meeks, Dayton Spiel, JD Anderson, the Hunt family and the Melvin family.
"We plan on doing a clinic again next year, but there's nothing set in stone," Elshere said. "We keep moving it to different communities, but a lot of kids last year came back again. It has been fun."
KC is memorialized in more than a clinic. The Second Annual KC Longbrake Saddle Bronc Challenge was Sept 1. in his hometown of Eagle Butte, S.D.
For KC's family members, like Mona, events like the clinic are not just a chance to remember, but also a chance to appreciate those who care and try to make a difference.
"I'm sure KC's looking down and smiling at Cole saying I can't believe my best friend is doing this in memory of me," Mona said. "He always, always had that smile on his face. He lived his life to the fullest." F