By: Justin Felisko August 19, 2014@ 06:00:00 PM
BEGGS, Okla. – Ryan Dirteater sat atop his brown horse with its white face, and gazed across the Tulsa RV Ranch Arena leisurely swinging his rope in his right hand last Thursday.
It was a different site than most fans are accustomed to seeing every weekend on the Built Ford Tough Series. There was no protective vest, bull riding shirt or blue and black chaps. Instead, there he was wearing a black PBR & Cooper Tires polo tucked into his blue jeans prior to the start of the first Ryan Dirteater PBR/Team Roping Championship.
However, it was nothing out of the ordinary for Dirteater, who has long been a successful team roper. Still, the event was a first for Dirteater and by night’s end it was clearly a rousing success.
After a cow cutting, auction and team roping competition, which lasted late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning, Dirteater, some fellow BFTS bull riders, event sponsors, volunteers and others helped raise $15,000 for Make-a-Wish Oklahoma.
Not too bad for a first-time event, right?
“It went great,” Dirteater said. “We had over 80 teams. Everybody was happy. We all had fun. There were a lot of kids out there and I love helping.”
Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience. The Oklahoma chapter was founded in 1987 has granted more than 2,300 wishes to eligible Oklahoma children.
Dirteater has long been an entrepreneur away from the arena, he owns three rental properties and co-owns an indoor arena with childhood friend Mike Jones, and he was first approached with the idea of hosting a team roping competition in Tulsa a couple years ago by Larry Tysver.
Tysver is a manager of a local Cavenders and he and Dirteater eventually reached out to Make-A-Wish about becoming the main beneficiary of the roping event that was held one day before this year’s Express Employment Professionals Classic at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
“It was a no-brainer to try and get the awareness out of what we do in Oklahoma,” said Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma President & CEO Jeff Summers. “Any way we can raise awareness and let people be aware that every dollar donated here stays right here in Oklahoma and grants local wishes is huge for us.”
According to Summers, the $15,000 raised will help grant two wishes to two Oklahoma natives. Not only did Dirteater help organize the event, he also took a group of Make-A-Wish kids on a behind-the-scenes tour Friday night at the BOK Center.
During the BFTS event this weekend, Dirteater was clearly a fan favorite during introductions and received another strong ovation when he rode Smokin Okie for 85.75 points to earn a spot in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Saturday night. He bucked off I’m a Gangster Too twice and finished sixth overall.
What impressed Summers about Dirteater was the fact that the Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider could easily have just put his name on the event and called it a day. Yet, ever since the beginning, Dirteater was attending meetings and brainstorming sessions with event organizers.
Dirteater attended six meetings and helped recruit fellow PBR bull riders and stock contractors J.B. Mauney, Kasey Hayes, Brady Sims, Markus Mariluch, Julio Moreno and Mike White to the roping event.
“It is not like we talked about it and somebody sent him an e-mail,” Summers added. “Ryan has been at every meeting. He has shown up every time and sat there at the table and said, ‘How can we do this? What can we do here? How can I help?’ He hasn’t been a silent partner. He has been as active or more active than anyone at the table saying how do I make this happen.
“The bottom line is, for a first-time event, this is a success.”
Dirteater ended up winning the roping along with Tysver. He also roped with Hayes and some other contestants.
“I am happy we raised as much as we did,” Hayes said. “Make-A-Wish is a great foundation. It was fun getting to come do a little roping before the bull riding. We don’t get to do it a whole lot.”
Dirteater was happy with the turnout from his fellow bull riders and is looking forward to having an even greater showing next year. He even hopes to work with the PBR in getting the organization more involved as well.
“They are already talking about putting together next year’s and getting the PBR involved, which is awesome.” Dirteater said. “It is a great organization and I love helping out as much as I can.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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