LAS VEGAS – Bruce Ford is a five-time world champion bareback rider and a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
He’s also a survivor and one of the most caring and most giving men anyone could ever meet. That’s what his friends say, and they should know. A great number of Ford’s friends have gathered together to help the cowboy through some difficult times he’s faced in 2013.
The biggest obstacle came in September, when floodwaters ravaged much of Colorado. Ford’s property near Kersey, Colo., was severely damaged as Mother Nature wielded a sharp tongue and damaging waters. Ford and his wife, Sherry, found safety with their animals.
If that weren’t enough, Ford has struggled with diabetes and has spent several days in the hospital recently. A big toe and a portion of a foot had to be removed because of the damage the disease has caused.
Now the rodeo community that has called Ford a member is reaching out to its brother through the Bruce Ford Flood Relief Benefit, a live auction that will take place around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Sonoma Room in the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It occurs during much of the hoopla and celebration that takes place around the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s marquee event for which Ford qualified 18 times.
“I know Bruce as well as a brother,” said Bob Logue, who, like Ford, rode bareback horses at the NFR numerous times. “Me and Bruce rodeoed together. It’s the one person I knew I could always count on. In my past, I felt the need to help someone who needed it, and that’s what I’m doing now.”
Logue is the primary organizer of the event, working closely with former bareback rider and website designer Corey Brown; former bareback riding NFR qualifier Kelly Wardell; and Katie Ford, Bruce’s daughter-in-law. They’re hoping the rodeo community comes out in full force, whether donating items or being part of the auction, which follows the welcome reception for the 119 NFR contestants.
“As much as anything, Bruce is such a longtime icon in the sport, then you’ve got his son, Royce, and his nephews that have all qualified for the finals,” said Randy Corley, an 11-time Professoinal Rodeo Cowboys Association Announcer of the year, who will call the action during the NFR for the 13th time. “Bruce was such a good friend and such a giver for people.
“He’s the kind of guy that you want to rally around and help when you have a disaster. He was just one of a lot of people that were affected by this disaster, but he just happens to be one that we know.”
Corley was instrumental in securing the location of the benefit at the South Point, contacting owner Michael Gaughan, also a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
“Michael and Donna Gaughan wanted to be involved, and they donated the room and other stuff for this,” Corley said. “He wanted a good plan and wanted it to be a good deal, and I think that’s what they’ve done.
“I hope people rally and that they do the little things or the big things that make a difference. I believe in helping people, and Bob Logue does, too. People hit circumstances where they need help, and this is one of those instances.”
Corley’s sentiments are a true reflection of the lifestyle that is rodeo.
“As far as I’m concerned, everybody in rodeo is family,” Wardell said. “I want us to raise a bunch of money in a short time. I think it’s important to help each other out. In rodeo, when we get done, all we have left are our friends and the people we rodeoed with along the way.
“When one of us is down, it’s important to me that we all gather around and try to lift that person up.”
Ford has been down. The flood happened more than two months ago. In the weeks since, he’s been hospitalized with complications of diabetes. Logue has visited with his longtime friend several times and has been in constant contact with Katie Ford.
“We’ve had so many people who have reached out, whether it’s donating items for the auction or donating money,” Logue said. “I talk to Bruce at least once a month, and sometimes I’ll talk to him two or three times a day.
“Being a rodeo cowboy and a goal-setter, you seem to gravitate to people with the same goals and the same life experiences. Me and Bruce … we were sidekicks.”
Ford touched a lot of people that way, and that’s another reason they’re part of the benefit in Las Vegas.
“As a bareback rider coming up through the amateur ranks, I couldn’t think of who didn’t like Bruce Ford,” said Brown, who operates 4B Web Design. “He was an idol for a lot of bareback riders. On one hand, it’s good to help a fellow bareback rider out, but I also got to meet him and I think it’s the right thing to do. I have skill sets that can help spread the word through the Internet.
“I think a lot of that man, and he paved a lot of ways for bareback riders for a long time. It’s an honor to even be associated with it.”
Ford is planning to be at the benefit. It’s just more proof that cowboys know how to face adversity; they trust in their faith and their friends.