SMRA gives back to the community

Some of Middle Tennessee’s local charities have lassoed more than $13,000 in donated funds thanks to the generosity of the Smoky Mountain Rodeo Associaiton (SMRA).

SMRA, which is a non-profit, charitable organization centered on promoting the western lifestyle, selected three local non-profits to support. Recently SMRA donated to Angel Heart Farm ($3,000), the Bianca Paige Awareness Network (BPAN) ($3,000), and the Dream Factory ($3,000).

“We attended the Angel Heart Farm's Cowboy Ball and presented them with two donations,” said SMRA Treasurer Bill Tedder. “One from the IGRA Royalty team that raised $1,350 during convention specifically for Angel Heart by auctioning a necklace made by the kids and one from SMRA as part of its year-end distribution for $3,000.”

On Saturday Dec. 2, SMRA made a surprise visit to the Chute and presented Bianca Paige/BPAN and Dream Factory with checks for $3,000.

Angel Heart Farm, located in Nolensville, Tenn., utilizes equine therapy for terminally ill children. The non-profit utilizes donations to care for horses and provide services to the terminally ill children.

BPAN is an AIDS awareness and education organization. Its purpose is to advocate and promote HIV/AIDS prevention. Dream Factory is similar to the Make A Wish Foundation in that it grants and assists terminally ill children with wishes, dreams and/or travel.

“These donations will bring our 2006 total funds raised/donated to more than $13,000,” Tedder said. “We appreciate the community supporting our efforts to help these charities.”

Those fundraisers include events such as their Winter Round-Up, Pub Crawls, Pride, Mr. Bud Light contests and Gay Ole Opry Shows as well as the monthly rodeo nights at the Chute, the first Saturday of each month.

“We also participate in community fundraising events such as the AIDS Walk. In 2006 we raised over $1,400 for the AIDS Walk,” Tedder said. “During each of our events, we partner with sponsors, advertisers and donors to offset expenses. This year we were incredibly lucky to host the 22nd Annual IGRA Convention. Four nights of parties, socials and fundraisers raised a significant amount of funds that we are able to share with the community.”

Justin James, SMRA president, said fundraising is the group’s main focus.

“Back when gay rodeo started in 1976 that was the sole reason to have the rodeo -- to raise money for a diabetes charity,” James said. “It has since grown into a way for those whose hearts are in the western lifestyle to have a big rodeo, raise even more money for charities and promote the western way of life in the gay community.”

Tedder said the selection to decide which charities to support is never easy.

“Last year we decided to focus on three areas in the community that we felt needed assistance - HIV/AIDS Education & Support, Children's Health & Welfare, and Animal Health & Welfare,” said Tedder. “We accepted nominations from our members for charities in each of the three categories, and invited the nominees to make a presentation to our membership. Members voted to choose one charity in each category.”

Both said that SMRA would eventually grow to the point so that it would be able to host a gay rodeo event in Tennessee – which would increase the groups’ potential to give back to the community.

If your non-profit is interested in receiving funds from SMRA, the group is presently accepting nominations and recommendations for 2007. For more information contact SMRA at

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