When saddle bronc rider Jim Burnette arrived in Pocatello, Idaho, for the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, his mind was on winning a piece of the $425,000 pie.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old cowboy from Kenansville, Fla., had earned a berth in the national championship thanks to his sixth consecutive Southeastern Circuit year-end title. But on the day he showed up in Pocatello, he received a phone call from his wife, Leslie, who told him some devastating news: his 10-month-old daughter, Adalene, had cancer.
Burnette wasted no time and flew back home to be with his family.
Doctors diagnosed little redheaded Adalene with Rhabdomyosarcoma. The cancer, according to her parents, is rare in Adalene's case because it's usually found in the neck area or eye area. Adalene's cancer is in her stomach and backside.
Doctors at Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Fla., say they've never seen a case like Adalene's in terms of her age and the location of the cancer. She's undergoing 42 weeks of chemotherapy. On April 21 she'll celebrate her first birthday, the same day as her father.
The rodeo community, as it always does, has stepped up with various fund-raising efforts to help the Burnette family defray their mounting medical bills.
A benefit rodeo is planned for May 1 (2 p.m.) at the Okeechobee (Fla.) Cattlemen's Arena. The events will be: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and break-away roping for women and boys 15 years and younger.
Entries will be taken on April 26 from 6-9 p.m. by calling Joanna Sherman at 863.634.3265 or Paige Sherman 863.634.3266.
A benefit auction is slated to follow the rodeo. To donate items, call the numbers above. All proceeds will go to the Burnette family.
Burnett's traveling partner, Travis Collinsworth, also is helping by raffling off a painting. Hobby Campbell (Lorida, Fla.), an everyday cowboy and talented artist, has donated a painting titled Cold Back Cracker. The picture is of several cowboys working cattle, with a Florida landscape consisting of palmettos, cabbage trees and palm trees. "It looks just like what our cow pens look like down here," Collinsworth said.
The cost of each raffle ticket is $20. Those who would like to buy a ticket can call Collinsworth at 813.986.1001 or 813.215.3450. His address is 3805 Stanley Road, Plant City, Fla., 33565. People can make their checks out to the Jim Burnette family. Collinsworth will mail tickets and the drawing for the painting will be held during the Labor Day rodeo in Ocala, Fla. You don't need to be present to win.
"They're just ordinary cow people from Florida," Collinsworth said. "Any of them would bend over backward for you to do anything they could. That's just the way they are, good old, simple country people."
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