The spirit of giving back and helping the community has always been integral to Western culture, And the slew of Western-oriented charities is evidence. From American Cowboy’s Feb/March 2012 issue, here’s a look at five prominent organizations that work to spread goodwill and good ol’ American values.
[Note: This article was originally posted on January 19th, 2012. The IFNM website was attacked by hackers and many articles are now gone from the archives. As a public service, IFNM is now reposting said articles.]
A veteran with Honor Flight Wyoming
Cowboying is a tough go. And despite their independent, can-do nature, cowboys have always gained strength from within tight-knit communities. Though these communities were often spread across great distances, Western settlers would gather for barn raisings, round ups, and social events. This communal tradition continues in everyday cowboy life and has spilled over to the formation of Western-themed charitable organizations across the nation. The strongest faith and values come from within, and long before Gene Autry put it into words, the Cowboy Code—and the Christian sentiments that inform its core—saw expression in everyday survival in the lawless West. It’s just the rancher’s way to be grateful for what is, to acknowledge those less fortunate, and to bring awareness to important causes. None of the hard-working and generous people profiled here were philanthropists to begin with. They each had breakthrough experiences that sparked an idea for something greater. Follow their lead to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Western Wishes – Santa Maria, Calif.
Donnalyn Quintana was raised in a rodeo family. She’s well-connected in the Western community, and saw an opportunity to grant wishes to and spotlight children and young adults who live and love the cowboy lifestyle but are facing tough challenges. And the program is not just limited to those facing illness or disability. Those who have had accidents or have lost family members, for instance, can get involved, too.
“I remember a kid that I read about in a high school rodeo paper,” says Quintana. “He was a roper and battling cancer, and I had this passing thought to call Roy Cooper for help. Well, that boy passed away. I found out later and thought: ‘I could’ve made a difference with one phone call.’ So that’s when I started Western Wishes.”
Founded in 1994, Western Wishes is now a national organization with 16 chapters in many states and regions of the country. “Wish Kids” are mostly found through word of mouth or by meeting people at rodeos, horse shows, and expos. Approximately 5–25 wishes are granted annually, depending on funding.