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An Event with a Good Cause

Saturday night there will be a few more testosterone-fueled men at Cowboys Dancehall than it’s already known for.

In addition to the Luke Snyder Invitational, which features in upwards of 35 professional bull riders competing on some the rankest bulls from throughout Texas, the event will be raising money for the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit and Sons of the Flag.

More than 20 wounded veterans will be at the event representing both benefactors.

“We’ll have a bunch of bad asses under that roof that night,” said Snyder, of the second annual Touring Pro Division event he’s hosting in San Antonio, Texas. “Yeah, the bull riders are going to hold a second fiddle to these guys.”

Although Snyder is a Missouri native, he likes the idea of using the PBR brand to help not one, but two military organizations.

According to Bo Davis, who produces 12 annual PBR events at Cowboys Dancehall and 14 others around Texas, it was Snyder’s idea to use the second annual event to help two causes close to him.

Snyder met Wayne Kyle through a mutual friend, Chris Douglas, leading up to last year’s Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit. Kyle is the father of the late Chris Kyle, a former Navy S.E.A.L. best known for writing The New York Times best-selling memoir “American Sniper.”

Kyle served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is regarded as the most lethal sniper in the history of American military. He was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marines Corps Achievement Medals and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation.

Following his service he devoted his time to helping disabled veterans – “It’s our duty to serve those who serve us” – until his untimely death in February 2013.

Snyder and Ross Coleman got to know Wayne and his wife Debby as well as their younger son Jeff.

Eventually Wayne and Jeff asked Snyder and Coleman to serve on the Board of Directors.

“They liked the way that we carried ourselves and asked if we would be interested,” recalled Snyder, who will again be a board member for the annual spring event in 2015. “Man, we were humbled. We jumped at the chance.”

Snyder added, “Chris and the whole family come from a ranching, western background and they’ve always been big fans of the PBR.”

Wayne and Jeff also introduced Snyder to former Navy S.E.A.L. Ryan “Birdman” Parrott.

Parrott is the founder and CEO of Sons of the Flag – a resource for burn survivors – and, with help from Snyder, who served as a coach, attempted riding a bull last spring at the Chris Kyle Memorial.

“We were all very impressed and he didn’t just like get bucked off,” Snyder said. “He made the corner and he was being so aggressive that he went down in the well.”

According to Davis, Snyder initially approached him about donating the $5,000 he was due for the naming rights and appearance fees for the event.

After hearing about Snyder’s plan, Cowboys Dancehall owner Mike Murphy, and the venue’s general manager Danny Perez then decided to donate $2 from every ticket sold.

The venue holds close to 4,000 spectators.

“It was a no-brainer to all jump on it,” Davis said of the idea. “It’s been our marquee deal there at the Cowboys Dancehall. Mike and Luke are getting behind it this year to turn it more into a benefit for Chris Kyle. I’m proud of Luke and Cowboys.”

Snyder added, “We’re going to give them some pretty sized checks.”

Wayne and Jeff, who served in the Marines, will be in San Antonio and are planning to bring a dozen wounded veterans, as will Parrott.

The bull riding event will feature the likes of Mike Lee, Ben Jones, Jordan Hupp, Brant Atwood, Jason Malone and Harve Stewart.

Last year, all six spent time competing on the Built Ford Tough Series and, in fact, Lee was a contender for a second world title.

Texas contractors like Boyd & Floyd, Edward Martinez and Joe Garcia will provide the livestock.

According to Snyder, who retired from competition following the 2013 season, the rider introductions will start at 8:45 p.m. with the first two sections of competition getting underway at 9 p.m. Two more sections will begin at 11 p.m.

Snyder indicated that regardless of what time fans arrive, $2 from the price of admission will be donated.

“Everyone there will have done their part and they get to see a good show,” he said, “and in the process they’re going to be helping some wounded vets.”

Davis said, “It’s our final deal (of the season) and it’s a standout marquee event here.”

LIGHT, ACTION, CAMERA: The film adaptation of “American Sniper” will be released on Christmas Day. Directed by Academy Award-winner Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, early reviews of the film have indicated that it is a strong contender in several categories for both Golden Globes and Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Golden Globe nominations will be announced Thursday, Dec. 11, while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce Oscar nominations in January.

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