By: Justin Felisko May 15, 2014@ 11:45:00 AM
PUEBLO, Colo. ― For the last eight years Hico, Texas, has become home for six-time PRCA champion and PBR stock contractor Cody Ohl.
His wife, Jenny, had grown up in the central Texas town where “Everybody is Somebody,” and it is where the Ohls have built their home on 140 acres and are raising their kids.
It is a town with many memories for the family, with plenty more coming in the foreseeable future, including this weekend’s Cody Ohl Steak Cookoff Chute Out.
However, the annual Touring Pro Division event will be held with heavy hearts on Saturday and Sunday after the roughly 1,500-person community lost one of its own Tuesday when former standout Hico football player Alex Sikes died in a head-on collision with a semi-truck on U.S. Highway 281. The 20-year-old had just finished up his freshman year at Tarleton State University.
“He was a genuine great guy, a kid that don’t come along often,” Ohl said. “You go to town, no matter where you go, the drug store, the grocery store, the convenient store, the lumber yard – everybody has tears in their eyes. It is just a super bad deal. There is no way else to look at it.”
Shelli Stegall, principal of Hico’s secondary campus, told the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, “He was a leader and the type of kid everyone loved. He was a big brother to hundreds of kids in our community and was exactly what we want in a Hico Tiger.”
On Wednesday, Ohl sent a message out to all 48 of his event sponsors in hopes of organizing an auction on Saturday night during the bull riding to help raise money for the Sikes family with the goal of covering the cost of funeral arrangements.
“I just got to thinking about it this morning, especially after making the rounds around town,” Ohl said. “Just like, ‘Hey, we have to do something here.’”
He received an overwhelming positive response, and it comes as no surprise after Ohl and company helped raise $3,000 in less than 20 minutes last year for a West, Texas, family affected by the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion that made national headlines.
Ohl also reached out to J.B. Mauney, who will not be competing, but is going to overnight an item for the auction. Ohl is also asking other riders competing this weekend to contribute anything if possible to the auction and he is additionally putting up some of his own memorabilia for auction.
Guilherme Marchi, J.W. Harris, L.J. Jenkins and Jordan Hupp are just some of the top Built Ford Tough Series riders scheduled to compete.
The sponsors have also helped Ohl organize $12,000 in scholarships for 12 graduating seniors from Hico High School. The recipients have a range of accomplishments, including state track gold and silver medals, valedictorian and salutatorian honors, a National Future Farmers of America Land Judging Finalist, all-district honors in football and basketball and many more.
The bull riding event takes place on Ohl’s property in an arena surrounded by oak trees with plenty of open space for kids to play. There will be mutton busting and calf scrambles on both days.
Cody Ohl’s arena is ready for this weekend’s TPD event. Photo courtesy of Cody Ohl.
“We are out here in the country and its going to be a good time,” Ohl said.
The annual Texas Steak Cookoff takes place downtown on Friday and there will be a Phil Hamilton concert on Saturday night.
Sikes’ brother, Dalton, has done some work for Ohl in the past and the brothers’ mother is also a local teacher in Hico. According to Ohl, Dalton is a junior at Hico High School and a “stud” on the football field. Dalton is also a hardworking and dependable young man.
“Ninety percent of the youth these days are like, ‘Hell, I ain’t doing this,;” Ohl said. “He says, ‘Oh yeah, I told you I would work.
“He is special and needs a lot of loving right now and this is tearing him up like none other.”
Ohl has already seen the community pull together this week and he expects much of the same this weekend.
“We are going to stick together and get through this,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.