Giving back to wounded warriors

J.W. Hart. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

Highlights

  • This year’s J.W. Hart Invitational will take place in Decatur, Texas, on Saturday, June 8.
  • Hart and his fellow committee members – Andrew Rottner, Calvin Jackson, Wendell Berry and the late Roy Young – are committed to donating two houses two wounded veterans and are hoping to raise enough funds to give away a third house.
  • More information is available online by logging onto www.militarywarriors.org/openhomes.
  • Berry is also committed to running 1,000 miles this year to raise money for the purchase of the homes. More information is available online by logging onto www.1000milestillhome.com.

In This Article

FORT WORTH, Texas ― To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the J.W. Hart Invitational, the namesake of the Touring Pro Division event wanted to do something special.

As if the $500,000 they've raised for various charities wasn't special enough, Hart and his committee members ― Andrew Rottner, Calvin Jackson, Wendell Berry and the late Roy Young ― are planning to donate homes to two local veteran soldiers.

"We're going to give away a couple houses," Hart said.

Hart's committee ― known in North Texas as WC Challenger Charities ― is working with a program called Homes 4 Wounded Heroes, which can be found at www.militarywarriors.org/openhomes.

The idea originated when Jackson was on a trip to San Antonio for an outdoor sports show and heard a general in the Army speak about the program.

"We're going to give away a couple houses."

By the time he returned to North Texas he had contacted Hart and the other committee members about getting involved. Everyone agreed that if they were able to give a wounded soldier a mortgage-free home for $20,000 they couldn't pass up the opportunity to lend a helping hand.

In short, the program collects foreclosed homes from local banks that are then purchased by charities like WC Challenger for $20,000 with the provision that it be donated to wounded soldiers.

Berry said they're well on their way to having raised the first $20,000. Hart said they would give away the first home, which will be valued at roughly $250,000, even if it meant he and his committee had to donate the money themselves.

Hart's event will take place Saturday, June 8.

However, PBR fans and anyone interested in helping can already do so by sponsoring Berry, a long distance runner who is committed to running 1,000 miles this year to help raise awareness and, more importantly, funds that will be used to purchase the homes being donated.

According to Berry, just last week someone contributed $2,000 to the online fund.

Berry, who is a personal trainer in Decatur, Texas, and works with several Brazilian riders ― Silvano Alves, Fabiano Vieira, Emilio Resende and others ― every week, has already run more than 600 miles since Sept. 1.

He is donating 100 percent of the proceeds his website generates toward the purchase of homes given away during Hart's annual event.

"I have a 19-year-old and that could be my son losing his arm or a limb," Berry said.

More information regarding Berry's cause can be found online by visiting www.1000milestillhome.com.

Asked why, Hart replied, "Because that's what you're supposed to do."

What he meant by that is the simple fact that giving and helping others is the cowboy way of life.

Hart isn't sure about other communities, but said the residents of Decatur, Texas, and throughout Wise County pull together for one another.

Throughout the past nine-year history of Hart's event, which has previously been honored three times as the PBR Sanctioned Event of the Year, it has donated 100 percent of the proceeds to various organizations ― United Way along with local schools, police and fire department ― in Wise County. They've also contributed to the Rider Relief Fund.

All of which they intend to do again this year in addition to the homes.

"There's always something around here," Hart said. "It's always for charity and always for a good cause and the bull riding is no different."

Hart's event originated in nearby Gainesville, Texas, but was moved to Decatur after meeting Jackson. Jackson and Berry owned an oil company and met Hart, who purchased gas from them. They talked the former bull rider into moving the event, and added Rottner and Young to the committee.

"It's been an awesome ride," Berry said.

Hart described his Decatur committee as, "The most heartfelt guys I've ever been around."

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC

© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

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