By: Darci Miller
PUEBLO, Colo. – In a year as full of strife as 2020 has been, one thing has proved true: the cream rises to the top.
In 2019, Ford created the Ford Hall of Fans, seeking out the best of the best PBR fans to honor them for their passion and dedication. With things looking a little different in 2020, the Hall of Fans adapted right along with the circumstances. This year, the Hall of Fans honors three PBR employees.
It takes a lot of effort to keep a sport going during a global pandemic, and three individuals on the PBR team went above and beyond in their efforts for not only those in the Western sports community, but for members in the PBR’s local community in Pueblo, Colorado, as well.
Read on to meet this year’s three Ford Hall of Fans nominees who embody the “Be Cowboy” spirit, and make sure to tune-in to the 2020 PBR World Finals on Nov. 12-15 on CBS Sports Network to see which cowboy will win the 2020 PBR World Championship and drive away in a brand new Ford truck.
A member of the PBR’s IT team, Brandon Reeves has worked as a network systems administrator at the PBR’s headquarters in Pueblo for the last three years. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began necessitating the use of personal protective equipment, and employees needing fail-proof respirators but didn’t want to take equipment away from healthcare workers and first responders, Reeves became the resident mask-maker.
Reeves developed a way to use the PBR’s new 3D printer to make N95 masks for staff that would be on the road and putting on events.
“I thought, ‘I could do this,’” Reeves said. “The PBR has the printer. They have the material. This is something we can do. Maybe we can help.”
Reeves’ work helped the PBR get back up and running again over the summer in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and has since continued to keep the printer running. He currently produces masks to donate within the community to those in need.
“I’ve made so many trips up to Denver – it’s a three-hour drive from where I live – to try and get all the masks collected,” Reeves said. “It just felt like something I could do, and a way I could help, and I wanted to see if it would be able to help anybody.”
The PBR might not’ve had a season in 2020 without Robert Simpson, the General Manager of the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour. In his five years with PBR, Simpson has built the Velocity Tour into the sport’s fastest-growing tour.
When the pandemic shut down the country, the PBR wanted to keep its employees and competitors working, and Simpson put his expertise to use, coming up with the plan to help the league get back to action.
Simpson spent years working in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and he knew that the Lazy E Arena was the ideal location to host socially distanced, closed-to-fans events this summer.
“Anything we could do to get PBR back up and running, I’m all for it,” Simpson said. “This venue, this place was the perfect opportunity to get our sport up and running again.”
And when the PBR needed to get some personnel and signage from Colorado to Guthrie in a matter of 36 hours, Simpson volunteered, loading up his Ford F-250 with the signage and passengers, and delivered everyone and everything to the Lazy E Arena nine hours away.
“It’s surreal,” Simpson said of his nomination. “It’s a special honor, and I’m just so happy to be nominated.”
Antwon Burton joined the PBR in 2019 as the Executive Director of the PBR Sport Performance Center, a new state-of-the-art facility providing sports development, training, fitness and recovery programs for Western sports athletes and traditional stick-and-ball sports athletes alike. He’s trained PBR bull riders such as Derek Kolbaba, Dalton Kasel, Andrew Alvidrez and Ezekiel Mitchell, and continues to find was to help athletes stay in shape during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burton, a former NFL defensive tackle, has lived in Pueblo since 2009 with his wife, Terah, who is a Pueblo native.
When the pandemic hit, Burton got involved on behalf of the PBR, facilitating donations of PPE to CSU-Pueblo and Pueblo County first responders.
“If there’s a need, and especially in this time, I feel like if you have the option to fulfill that need, why not?” Burton said. “It just so happened that we’re a part of a great organization that allowed us to have the resources, and we got it done.”
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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