CQ rodeo raises huge amount for Dolly's legacy
RODEO: One of the biggest events ever seen in the Central Queensland town of Springsure has raised more than $100,000 for the Dolly's Dream Foundation.
The Springsure Showgrounds turned a shade of blue as more than 290 competitors and 5000-plus spectators saddled up for the Doin' it for Dolly Charity Rodeo on Saturday.
The huge event was organised by community-minded couple Shannon Bleakley and Dan Roberts, who felt compelled to act after 14-year-old Amy "Dolly" Everett took her own life in January.
They did not know Dolly or her family but as parents of two young children, they wanted to raise money for the foundation, established to raise awareness of bullying, anxiety, depression, and youth suicide.
Given Dan's deep-seated connection to rodeo, they decided to do that with a charity rodeo and in just four weeks and two days they managed to bring together one of the biggest and best supported events on the sport's calendar.
"It was really successful. It was a lot bigger than we first anticipated and it was fantastic," Shannon said.
"We're still doing the sums and should know the final figure by the end of the week but we've raised over $100,000.
"It's overwhelming the support that we received from all over the country. We're feeling very appreciative and grateful.
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"The money to put the event on came from all over Australia, the prizes for the multi-draw raffle came from all over Australia, the auction items came from all over Australia and the people who came to support it were from all over Australia
"I am very proud to be an Australian right now."
Shannon said the event was even more significant given that Dolly's mum hailed from Springsure and family members, some of whom were at Saturday's event, live in the region.
Shannon said Dolly's death hit her and Dan "really hard".
"I suppose having children of our own it just really affected us," she said.
"Everyone kept asking, 'Why are you doing this?' Dan and I just keep saying if we don't, who will?
"I believe you've got to stand up and this event is proof that there are so many people who want to make a change."
Shannon said the rodeo really gained momentum after Dan posted a video on the event's Facebook page calling for people to get behind it.
It was viewed more than 790,000 times.
"Before the video went viral, I was talking to Dan on my way into the council to see if we could get the showgrounds. We'd said to each other wouldn't it be good if 1000 people show up and we could hand over $15,000 to $20,000.
"Boy, did it grow from there."
Money raised came from gate takings (there were more than 4000 paying adults), the canteen and bar, a multi-draw raffle and an auction of items which included gloves signed by boxing world champion Jeff Horn.
Vanderfield donated a John Deere tractor which sold for $25,000, which bolstered the funds by $10,000.
Shannon - who has a six-month-old baby Addison and home-schools her 10-year-old daughter Chloe - worked round the clock to make the rodeo a reality, up until three o'clock most mornings putting plans in place.
"There was a lot to do. You'd be pushed to do it in six months but for us to pull it off in four weeks, we're just so lucky we had so much support. That's the only reason we were able to get it done."
The Doin' it for Dolly Charity Rodeo will be aired on Channel 7's Creek to Coast on March 17.