CALGARY, Alberta – When Ty Pozzobon died earlier this year, he left family and friends searching for answers.
They hope to find them through the Ty Pozzobon Foundation, which was established a few weeks after his death to protect and support the health and well-being of rodeo competitors inside and outside the arena. As the foundation tries to build, it continues to search for funds.
That’s where the Ranchman’s Renegade Charity PBR Bullbustin’ came in last week. More than $15,000 was raised for the foundation, but the giving didn’t stop there.
The Ballbustin’ also gathered extra money for the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and to bull rider Josh Faircloth, who suffered a badly broken leg during the event.
“We’ve been doing charity bull riding events for 17 years at the Ranchman’s,” said Cody Snyder, a Canadian and world champion bull rider who remains close to the game. “Four years ago, we decided to add another day, and the proceeds would go to the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre.
“The first three years, we raised a combined $250,000. This year we raised $130,000.”
That’s an incredible amount for the event that serves as the unofficial kickoff to the Calgary Stampede, which continues through Sunday.
“We had T-shirts for sell, and the money raised there went to the Ty Pozzobon Foundation,” Snyder said. “The last rope that was ever made for Ty was auctioned off for $8,000. Half of it went to the Pozzobon Foundation, and the other went to Josh.”
It’s all important to Snyder, who knew Pozzobon for much of his 25 years. Pozzobon took his own life Jan. 9, and family and friends believe his suicide was a result of brain injuries after suffering numerous concussions over the course of his bull riding career.
“It’s very important that we were able to give back to the Ty Pozzobon Foundation,” Snyder said. “My wife, Rhonda, and I were Ty’s agents for years. Ty won that event at the Ranchman’s on a Wednesday. Ty had always done well there, and it was look at as if it were his arena.
“All three performances were sold out over three days, which says a lot. We transform the parking lot of a bar into a bull riding arena. The crowd was really electric. Every time we mentioned Ty, it was a big deal to them.”
It’s a big deal to many people, now just six months since his death.
“The reality is that this impacts many people around them,” Kennedy said of suicide victims. “By raising awareness, we’re trying to make the invisible visible. It’s OK to talk about your feelings. The magic pill is that when we can be honest about this stuff, it loses its power.”
That’s the case, whether the discussion is suicide or child abuse.
“The Ranchman’s bull riding has been phenomenal,” said Kennedy, a Manitoba hockey player who spent part of his playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames. “It’s not so much about the money but the awareness. We want to engage people with different issues. We look at child abuse, and we look at bull riding; they’re both real. We felt working with the bull riding was a good fit.”
So was the Ty Pozzobon Foundation.
“I knew Ty and got to meet Tanner Byrne and Chad Besplug through these events,” Kennedy said. “We’ve been able to have some good conversations about how we deal with stuff. I think it’s really important; Ty was the champion of that event last year.
“I felt it was important that we took some of the proceeds from our charity and give to the Ty Pozzobon Foundation. I’m hoping we can do more. I’m trying to help behind the scenes as much as I can.”
Each step taken forward is a positive move, and there’s hope that more people can benefit from it in the future.