A local charity rodeo benefiting burn victims and their families recently roped a national award.
The Southeastern Firefighters' Burn Foundation puts on Rodeo Nights, an annual rodeo sanctioned by the International Professional Rodeo Association. Proceeds go to burn victims for garments, medications and transportation needs and to their families for meals and lodging.
Members of the burn foundation's Rodeo Nights Committee traveled to Oklahoma City on Jan. 16, where the rodeo was honored with the award for Best New Rodeo in the United States from the rodeo association.
"We're thrilled," said Tina Seeger, the foundation's development director. "Especially it being only our second year of the event and doing it strictly as a fundraiser, we're absolutely amazed."
Seeger said the rodeo association sent representatives to the event, which was held in April at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road. Representatives gathered information such as the number of contestants, the prizes and an overall evaluation of the event.
More than 4,000 people attended the rodeo, which featured eight different events including bull riding and barrel racing, and a specialty act. Seeger said sponsorships and $3,000 in prize money per event from the burn foundation allowed winners from each event to walk away with $4,000 to $5,000. She said the large purse is what drew 300 cowboys from 22 states and Canada.
The burn foundation was created in 1988 as a nonprofit organization that supports burn patients and their families during and after treatment at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.
The 2006 rodeo raised nearly $27,000 for the foundation.
Seeger said plans for the 2007 rodeo, set for April 27-28, are already under way, and she hopes to have even more corporate sponsorships this year.
Contestants will compete in nine events including bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, bareback riding and saddle bronc riding.
"It is moving forward full speed," Seeger said. "The event is just getting bigger and better."
Tickets for the rodeo cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. Advanced tickets go on sale in March and will be available at all Georgia Bank and Trust locations, B & V Western Wear and Saluda Farm & Garden Supply.
For more information on Rodeo Nights 2007, call the burn foundation office at (706) 650-2876.
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