Bulls, barrels, mutton and mini’s raise money in Kiowa, Colo.
5th annual Responder Relief Rodeo draws big community support
for The Fence Post
The fifth annual Responder Relief Rodeo took place on Saturday night (Aug. 21, 2021) at the Elbert County Fairgrounds in Kiowa, Colo., and the community came out to support it in larger numbers than the previous four years had ever seen. The bull riding, barrel racing, mutton busting, and mini bulls event raised funds for the Responder Relief Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that provides financial assistance to families of fallen first responders and to those first responders who have been critically injured. With an estimate of the crowd to be somewhere between 800-1,000 people, organizers were enthusiastic with the numbers.
“We were very, very pleased,” said Mark Maykowski, president of the Responder Relief Foundation. “It was a very good crowd for this area.”
The full stands were entertained throughout the evening by 40-plus bull riders, eight barrel racers, 24 mutton busters, and 10 mini bull riders. It started with mutton busting, and signups for the family-oriented event gave an early signal of what the response to the rodeo would be on Saturday night.
“We were full with mutton busting two weeks before the rodeo,” said Maykowski. “We ran 24 this year. We are obviously looking to expand that, because kids are dynamite.”
The kids were also dynamite in another event designed to entertain. Between flights of regular bull riding, Bijou Buckers Mini Bulls brought their fully mature — but smaller — bulls and paired them up with appropriately aged contestants in a contest that brought the loudest cheers of the night. With a 5 and under category (Walk Trot) and multiple other categories that ranged up to 14 years old, the mini bulls and the young people aboard them put on a good show.
“That was incredible,” said Maykowski of the mini bulls. “We want to definitely do those again.”
The main draw of the evening was the big bulls, and the action did not disappoint. Event organizers brought in stock contractor Ty Rinaldo and his Colorado-based TZ Bucking Bulls company to produce the 2021 rodeo and they were pleased with the results.
“That is what happens when you bring in PBR and PRCA quality animals,” said Maykowski in reference to the action of ornery bulls tossing their riders and charging throughout the arena looking for other targets. “This was our first year with (TZ Bucking Bulls) and it was an absolutely dynamite upgrade.”
“I was honored to be a part of it,” said Rinaldo. “We had great riders and a great set of bulls (and) we made the whistle on some bulls.”
On top of the rodeo action, the mission of helping families of fallen first responders and those who are critically injured seemed to resonate not only with the public who showed up in large numbers, but with those who were part of the rodeo.
“What a great tribute to fallen heroes,” said Rinaldo about the focus of the event. “They worked really hard to try to help the families of fallen heroes and that is greatly appreciated. That means a lot that it goes to help families of fallen police officers.”
The Responder Relief Foundation’s origins date back to a 2016 tragedy in Park County Colorado, where one deputy was killed and another critically injured (shot seven times) while serving an eviction note. Maykoswki’s brother-in-law was the deputy shot multiple times, and Maykowski witnessed firsthand the lack of resources available to help families of fallen first responders and those who are critically injured. It was after that experience that the foundation was created and a rodeo to raise funds was conceived.
The good crowd in 2021, along with the best sponsor support in the event’s five-year history, combined to help raise around $12,000. Unlike many other charities that only put a portion of an event’s proceeds directly towards their mission, the Responder Relief Foundation goes all in.
“With our foundation and rodeo, we (personally) make no money doing this,” emphasized Maykowski. “We put it all — 100% — to the first responders. Not a percentage of the proceeds; all of it. As near as I know, we are the only ones that do that.”
As a result of the community response that made it the best year ever, Maykowski stated they are looking to expand.
“It has been growing each year and we finally have gotten big enough now that we are looking at a two day event and growing it even further,” he said. While they wish to expand, they also must try to make the best decisions possible regarding their financial duty to the foundation’s mission. “(There are) other things you can look at when you do that,” Maykowski added. “We can look at bringing a band in to do a concert on the Friday night event. There are a lot of things we can look at with an expansion.”
Added to the enthusiasm of 2021’s spectators is a commitment from the man supplying the bulls.
“I would love to come back,” said Rinaldo about being a part of the rodeo’s future. “It was a great event and I am honored to be a part of it and can’t wait to work together with them in the future.”
“Very, very, very pleased,” said Maykowski in reaction to 2021’s successful event. “We hold some other events (and) announce all our events on our facebook page. We are not just stuck in rodeo, but the rodeo is definitely our mainstay event.”
For more information on the Responder Relief Foundation, you can visit their website at https://www.b4tf.net — call them at (303) 500-5275 — find them on facebook — or send an email to email@example.com.
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