Several weeks ago, I had the honor to arrange and accompany some really terrific ICS kids, some of their family members and several of our ICS Wranglers & Volunteers to a Bull Riding Championship here in Waterloo, Iowa. In following our philosophy of living a cowboy way of life and living by the cowboy code of ethics, I thought it would be great for our kids to see some honest-to-goodness, rough & tumble cowboys ride bulls.
Doug Dall (a member of our incredible ICS Iowa Team) made arrangements for us to meet with Jimmy Twedt, (an exceptional cowboy & human being!) who took time out of his warm-up time prior to the event to meet our kids and talk about riding bulls. Jimmy and colleagues, Joel and Ty talked about equipment, preparation and answered so many questions from the kids (and adults!). I was stunned and so grateful they took so much time out of their warm-up time (and let’s face it…prep time before riding an enormous, angry bull has to be a priority) to talk with our kids. So…Jimmy, Cole & Ty, Thank You for all that you did for our ICS kids…you made a difference in the lives of some pretty special kids & families. They won’t forget your compassion, enthusiasm and time…and neither will I.
Craig & Terri Strein from The Silver Spur Saddle Shop, also located in Waterloo Iowa were instrumental in helping us make this event happen. Devoted and compassionate when it comes to helping kids, Craig and Terri have quietly been helping youth in our community for years….and their commitment to making a difference is unparalleled. Thanks to them, many of our kids were able to enjoy great seats with spectacular views and…they took advantage and didn’t miss a thing!
They were fixated from the minute the bulls shot out from the chutes and they watched wide-eyed as those cowboys rode bull after bull. Most had never been to an event like this and it was so incredible to see the joy & awe in their eyes! The laughter and giggles of delight as they watched bulls charge ‘broomstick clowns’, or watched kids their own age participate in mutton-busting, was music to my ears. And…the ICS Wranglers & Volunteers who also attended this event, witnessed the same thing.
They say laughter is good for the soul and this night with our ICS family certainly reiterated that. Our ICS family is growing and with that growth comes the promise of new opportunities, more laughter and the ability to generate Trust, Courage & Hope in the lives of some pretty spectacular kids! The best thing is…we’re making a difference all over the country from Wisconsin to California from Louisiana to Michigan and we’re doing it with compassion, joy, commitment and laughter!
Thank you to everyone who made this night possible….YOU made a difference!
If you’ve ever been to a Slickers, you know how much of an impact it has on the children & youth who participate. The reality is, it changes all of us.
I have been working with 2 of the Slickers who attended our August 2012 Slicker event here in Iowa. One young man has recently turned 18 and has aged out of the foster care system. His entire life has been difficult and full of things many of us won’t ever have to experience and there are sure to be challenges ahead. Aging out of the foster care system presents it’s own unique challenges and I have watched this young man face some of his demons and he keeps putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.
We have gone out for pizza and I’ve met his Uncle, a wonderful and kind man who has given him a place to live and is providing him with the unconditional love and spiritual guidance he’s been seeking. Dave McFarland, Doug Dall and I will be working with him on riding and learning to ride, rope and eventually he wants to ride bulls. He’s found a job and is finishing his high school education. I recently arranged a tour of Silver Eagle Harley Davidson in part because his late father loved Harley’s but also because he loves them too and would like to work for Harley some day. He had the opportunity to talk with mechanics, sales people and look at all the new bikes…and he filled out a job application. :) It was a magical morning and I was privileged to share it with him and his uncle. (BTW: A Special Thanks to Silver Eagle Harley Davidson and especially Jenn Bruns for showing us around and spending time with us!)
He has goals and dreams and he’s willing to work hard to achieve them. There will be bumps along the way but he is surrounded by people who will be there to help him dust himself off when/if he falls…don’t all kids deserve that? This young man is changing his life and watching him have the strength to persevere and change, is empowering and it’s changing me.
And then…there is little Miguel. This little guy arrived at our August Slickers at all of 5 years old with a huge and ever-present Smile, a beautiful Spirit and…a bag of organic carrots! From the minute he set foot on the ground, he captured everyone’s hearts. I knew a little of his background and knew he had faced challenges most of us cannot comprehend. He was shy and a bit reserved when the day started but with encouragement from the rest of the Slicker kids, Wranglers & Volunteers, he did EVERYTHING the bigger kids did and he blossomed, right in front of our eyes! The “Fall of Faith” frightened him a bit initially but he conquered it and….then he did it again and again! During the course of that day, we could see his confidence and courage growing and it was amazing to watch the change unfolding.
Miguel’s Uncle Harley who brought him to our event, told me later how much that day had changed him. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time with Miguel and his amazing Grandmother, Lori at the barn and Lori also told me about how Slickers had changed Miguel. His courage and confidence increased dramatically and he was participating more and more in the things 5 years old should participate in. In fact, the weekend before we met, he had participated in an elementary wrestling meet and he won 2 out of 3 matches! (Miguel shared a secret with me and said the only reason he lost the third and last match was because he “ate M&M’s” right before it started! :))
As I was leading Miguel around on horseback this weekend, he was talking about all the things he remembered from our August Slickers. He talked about how ‘his friends‘ Smokie (Brannaman) and Dave (McFarland) told him it would be ‘ok to touch the horse and the horse wouldn’t bite and so they showed him how to hold his hand and….the horse didn’t bite, just like Smokie and Dave said it wouldn’t!’. He talked about laying backwards on the horse and feeling that horse breath and…how ‘he wasn’t scared when he did that because he knew the horse wasn’t going to go anyway or hurt him’. He would like a cowboy hat like Michael’s some day and he asked if I thought if he practiced a LOT, he’d be able to do ‘the roping stuff’ like Smokie did?!. I will tell you….it was one of the best conversations I’ve had in quite awhile! Hearing all the things that Miguel remembered about that day and how they affected him, changed me.
When we were leaving the barn, Lori told me how grateful she was for ICS and the changes she believes we helped create in Miguel. Hearing her say that was so powerful and it made me even more appreciative and grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in this world, one child at a time. Grateful to work with some of the most amazing individuals in ICS. Grateful for the amazing kids we get to work with. Grateful that we still live in a world of Possibilities and Hope when it comes to our kids……
And yes, I’m Grateful for Change.