There are several reasons that rodeo is so special – but in my book the biggest one is the people that are involved. I got involved in rodeo because I wanted to have a career centered around livestock, I stayed involved because of the people.
As a family, a lifestyle and a sport, I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a better group anywhere, not just in the U.S, or North America, but on the entire planet. It’s because of those people that the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) has found a home here in Las Vegas and is the most successful and lucrative rodeo in the world.
One of those individuals that has been a mainstay in rodeo has been Grammy Award winning country musician Charlie Daniels. Charlie has performed in many openings at the NFR, including the eighth round on Thursday night this year. Amid smoke, fireworks and dancing girls, he stood in front of the bucking chutes and played his new song written especially for the NFR, “It Don’t Get No Better Than That.”
The song was the brainchild of Las Vegas Events and the PRCA and depicts the glory of the NFR with all of the grit and determination it takes for rodeo contestants to get here. What a lot of people may not know is that Charlie Daniels is a rodeo fan, a true cowboy, and is very involved in the sport. He is a board member for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund (JCCF), which provides living expenses for contestants who have been injured and can’t compete. Proceeds from “It Don’t Get No Better Than That” will benefit the JCCF as well as other charities.
“JCCF is a wonderful outfit,” Daniels said. “I don’t think any of us realize the extent that some of our cowboys get hurt. We see them injured in the arena and that’s the last we know about it. A lof of these injuries go on and on. For a lot of them, rodeo is their only source or their main source of income. We try to help them get over the rough spots.
“It’s amazing what these kids go through just to be a part of rodeo,” he continued. They sacrifice so much, not just physically, but family life. I’m honored to be on the board.”
While Daniels was promoting the song at Cowboy Christmas at Outside the Barrel with Flint Rasmussen, the Pro Rodeo League of Women’s annual luncheon was going on at the South Point Hotel & Casino. That event has been held in conjunction with the NFR for 28 years and has raised nearly $1.6 million for the JCCF. The event includes a style show, silent auction, live auction and raffle. This year’s event, organized again by Tracy Hedeman and Stacey Custer, raised $90,000 for the fund. Contestant’s wives, family members and NFR barrel racers model and many other volunteer.
And again, it’s about the people. Cowboys have a history of taking care of their own. Most of the funds raised for the JCCF come from contestants and their families, friends and fans. The program celebrated their 25th anniversary this year and has given $7.2 million in contributions. A unique element of the fund is that 100% of all contributions are given back. All of the administration is underwritten by the Justin Boot Company with cooperation from the PRCA.
It’s awesome to see people like Charlie Daniels so generously giving of his time and talent to help rodeo contestants in need. It’s even better to see him performing at the Thomas and Mack at 79-years-young and rocking the house. Because of his dedication and down-to-earth talent and loyalty, the City of Las Vegas proclaimed Thursday, Dec. 10th Charlie Daniels Day. Mayor Carolyn Goodman was also on Flint Rasmussen’s show and surprised Charlie with the official proclamation.
“For Charlie, it’s an honor for the City to have him here,” Mayor Goodman said. “We are so excited that he is here and that he’s done this wonderful new song, ‘It Don’t Get No Better Than That.’ We are all about celebrating greatness, so we couldn’t be prouder to have Charlie Daniels Day here in Las Vegas.”
I think it is very fitting that the City of Las Vegas recognized Charlie Daniels with his own day here. Just after receiving the proclamation, he had a line of fans just waiting for autographs and photo ops at Cowboy Christmas. Always gracious, having Charlie Daniels Day in Las Vegas meant a lot to him.
“I’m so humbled and honored,” he said when receiving the proclamation. “I thank you. If someone would have told me I was going to have a Day in Las Vegas when I came here the first time in 1959, I’d have run from them.”
Charlie is part of the rodeo family, through his cowboy lifestyle, his spirit, his contributions to the JCCF and now directly through his music. It Don’t Get No Better Than That.