Thousands of dollars has been raised for a young Quesnel cowboy who family, friends, and neighbours say is in good spirits after suffering a serious injury last month.
The latest fundraiser for Tyson Roberts was held on Saturday, July 23, at Alex Fraser Park, where more than 160 skilled ropers participated in team and breakaway roping.
Helping organize the afternoon event were Ryan MacNaughton and Gary Nicholson.
MacNaughton said many, including his own son, have high school rodeoed with Roberts, who they are close good friends with.
“Tyson broke his back in Prince George, and that’s a life-changing thing for a kid,” he said.
“The rodeo family and ranchers are a very tight-knit community, so if something happens to somebody, everybody wants to help, and that’s what we did it for.”
Roberts was injured on June 18 during a saddle bronc performance in Prince George and was airlifted to hopital in Vancouver.
Nicholson, a neighbour of Roberts, was a stock contractor for the B.C. Rodeo Association sanctioned event at Exhibition Park.
“When it happened, I didn’t realize at first because I was busy that it was Tyson,” Nicholson said.
“His spinal cord did not get severed, which is a good thing, so we’re optimistic and hopeful that he’s going to recover to what point, it’s hard to say, but we’re just hoping for the best. Tyson is just a great kid, and he ropes at our house and rides, and his whole thing in life is he wants to be a cowboy.”
Half the proceeds from Saturday’s team and breakaway roping were donated to Roberts and his family, with the other half being paid out to participants.
MacNaughton said $6,892 was raised for Roberts.
“Everybody was there for the right reasons,” MacNaughton added. “It was a very positive energy, it felt really good and everybody enjoyed their day. A couple of the guys that placed in the roping and won money just donated it back to the Roberts family, so it was pretty cool to see.”
Outside the rodeo grounds were Jen and Kierianne Homann, with a table of donated items for a silent auction which Nicholson believes brought the number of funds raised to more than $7,000.
A Facebook benefit auction for Roberts pulled in over $50,000 after closing at 7 p.m. Monday, July 18.
Jamie Delves said she and Lala Cripps gathered auction items that flooded in from as far as Saskatchewan.
“I think with the age of Tyson, and just what’s going on, it definitely hit home for a lot of people, and it’s something that a lot of people wanted to help with,” Delves noted.
Quesnel Rodeo Club president Ray Jasper said nearly $10,000 was also raised for Roberts and his family through this year’s 55th annual Quesnel Rodeo.
Roberts is in Vancouver attending the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.
While it is yet unclear when he will be able to return home, Tyson is upbeat about things and has had many visitors from Quesnel and Prince George, said his grandmother, JoAnne Hockett.
”The well wishes and so forth mean a lot to the family,” she said. “It makes you feel good that people are thinking of him.”
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