PUEBLO, Colo. ― Stormy Wing had no idea if he was going to win the Mike White Invitational after riding Latch Man for 89.5 points in the short round last weekend in DeKalb, Texas.
Yet after going 2-for-2, Wing turned to event organizers and said to take a portion of his winnings – whatever they ended up being – and donate it to Ropin’ Dreams.
The nonprofit organization’s mission is to “fulfill the dreams of those young people who are faced daily with the adversity of physical challenges due to critical injury or serious illness.”
“I got to hang out with some of those kids and the people that do receive benefits from Ropin’ Dreams,” Wing said. “They bring me back down to reality. Anyone is guilty of doing it – taking things for granted and complaining a lot.”
Wing ended up winning the event and donating $500. He had rodeRedneck Romeo in the long round for 88.5 points. The 24-year-old andDouglas Duncan had arrived at the Mike White Invitational earlier in the day to spend some time at a local hospital and have lunch with some of the Ropin’ Dreams children.
“That bull riding is put on for Ropin’ Dreams, so why not?” Wing explained. “It allowed me to be there to win some money for my family, so why not give back to it if you could? I told them whatever I win, take $500 and tell them to use it however they need it.”
Last year, Wing also donated a portion of his winnings to Ropin’ Dreams during Danny Reagan’s Touring Pro Division event in Uvalde, Texas.
Overall, the Mike White Invitational raised over $24,000 to benefit Ropin’ Dreams last weekend, according to Mike White. The invitational wrote a check for $19,000, not including Wing’s or Markus Mariluch’s donations, during the event. The Mike White Invitational also raised an additional approximately $4,400 for the six Ropin’ Dream kids in attendance at the bull riding.
Markus Marliuch donated all of his winnings – “a couple hundred bucks” – and spent some time with the children during the day as well. One child, a young aspiring bull rider, was suffering from Crohn’s disease and another was a young bull riding fan in a wheelchair.
“I donated everything that I won back. I just gave it all back,” Mariluch said. “I was talking to them kids – they are less fortunate than us – and anything you can donate back to try and help them. I think it’s going for a good cause and hopefully, they can find a cure for some of those kids.”
Along with the Friday night bull riding, White, his sister, Wendy LaVergne, and a group of sponsors also helped organize an all-day roping event on Saturday, as well as an Easter egg hunt.
“It’s a cool deal and what Mike does, I am a really big fan,” Wing said. “I am just upset I couldn’t stay for the pasture roping. I will definitely be doing that next year.”
The actions by the riders over the course of the event meant the world to the children they met, and also to White.
“It was an outstanding event and I just want the fans to know what kind of athletes that we do have,” White said. “Both of those guys realize the gift that they got and they are not taking it for granted. They are giving back part of what they earned. They realized what a great position they are in to give back and not take things for granted.”
White remembers how tough the Built Ford Tough Series grind is on a bull rider’s body, so sometimes the last thing you want to do is hit the road again on your first weekend off during the first half of the season.
Yet that is exactly what Wing, Duncan and Mariluch did instead of taking a week off to rest for this weekend’s Des Moines Invitational.
“For those guys to have their first weekend off from a Built Ford tough event and come to our event and do good and give back to the kids is great,” White said. “To do what they’ve done is great.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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