We have an awesome committee that helps plan and put on the J.W. Hart Challenge, they are just incredible.
J.W. helps organize the bulls and he helps with ideas, but the committee behind this event is really what makes this event work. They work all year to see what they can do and strategize to make the event better from the previous year. They do what they can to try and raise money for different organizations.
This year, we are donating houses through the Military Warriors Support Foundation. The goal at the beginning was four houses, and they are at five houses now, possibly six, that they will be presenting. It is really a big thing. They just have huge hearts.
Every year J.W. plans to have the best bulls and best riders there and I think it was hard this year because some of the guys didn't want to come due to that fact that the bulls are going to be so good.
Which is kind of crazy because you question if they are minor league guys or major league guys?
This is the PBR, they are the best of the best. So it really got under J.W.'s skin because it is something that is really passionate to him. He was getting on bulls and riding with those big name guys (Ty Murray and Tuff Hedeman) and looking up to a guy like Lane Frost, who were getting on bulls for nothing. They wanted to get on the best of the best because they wanted to be called the best of the best.
I am definitely pulling for Bushwacker because after this J.W. may envy people in comas. He may never rest again. Everybody keeps saying that he is a marketing genius and I'm like, "He is an idiot!"
This year is such an honor because we are giving back to these families who have given so much for this country. It is going to be a pretty awesome event.
This will be the first year that I actually didn't plan anything else on this weekend. I usually have a wedding or something to shoot photos of and I end up kicking myself because I realize too late that I have planned something overtop of this event.
This year I made sure not to plan anything on this weekend - I want to be there for it.
My heart is with the Love County Toy Drive and Angel Tree stuff that I do every Christmas through my community efforts.
For J.W., his heart is really with the soldiers. He just has so much respect for someone who can strap on a gun and go defend this country. He looks at it as they are not just going over there defending just one person, they are defending the entire United States, and so he feels like we owe them so much. So this idea of giving away houses, through 1,000 Miles Till Home with Wendell Berry, went hand in hand with where J.W.'s heart is at.
Learn more about 1,000 Miles Till Home, here.
The soldiers that will be receiving the keys to these houses will be in attendance at the event. The day of the event I am actually going to get to go with some of the wives on the committee and we are going to pamper the wives of the soldiers. We are going to go to a local salon and maybe do pedicures and things like that.
You have to give back to the wives too. I remember years ago at the PBR World Finals they would give bags with lots of goodies to the guys, and I don't remember whose idea it was, but I packed up all of these bags of fun stuff for the wives. I actually did them individually because at the time I knew all 45 guys' wives and girlfriends. So we packed them up in a stock trailer and hauled them out from Oklahoma to Las Vegas so every woman could get a bag. I think the funniest thing in the bag was poo-pourri.
The wives of the soldiers are just as much a part of the team on the home front as these guys are that are over there in a different country protecting us as well - they are a team with their husbands. Just making them feel special too, that they are such a huge part of this.
This will be the 10th year of the J.W. Hart Challenge. One of the biggest things is that this is the first year that Roy Young will not be there - he passed away this year. He was a huge part of the committee along with his humor and creative ideas. His love for bull riding and the PBR was unmatched. He will be greatly missed.
I am so excited because there is so much going on. Over Memorial Day weekend the kids and I drove down to Decatur, Texas, and we went to finish the last few laps. I think we are at 999.99 miles till home now. We are going to finish up that last little bit left in the arena. It is going to be an awesome time.
Justin McBride is going to be playing too Friday night - he is going to kick it off. That will be a good time for everyone that misses seeing him in the arena. They will get to see him behind a microphone.
Hopefully this year is going to surpass all of the previous years. We have had people messaging on Facebook asking what they can do to help with these homes. I have been involved with donations for Moore, Okla., for the last two days and people are asking, "Is there any way we can also donate to the houses for J.W.'s bull riding?"
People are just looking for a place to give. A lot of people have issues giving to organizations where they don't know where the money goes. I think that people know, because of what we show on the outside and how open we are with our lives, that we are pretty hands on and we are not scared to get our hands dirty. Whatever we say we are going to do, that's what we are going to be a part of.
The kids are so good. J.W. got Wacey a .22 the other day so he has been learning to shoot that and has been hunting and fishing. Mac, she has just been growing, growing, growing. Both Mac and Wacey are stepping up from the ponies to the big horses - now they think they are all grown up.
It is really awesome to be able to watch our 4-year-olds be so attentive and want to help with volunteer efforts. It is exciting to see them at such a young age want to be a part of what their parents are involved in, and I hope they continue to do so.
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