Lots of people don’t know a thing about barrel racing. There are probably even fewer who have heard of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
But even if those who don’t have a clue about either of those, chances are they’ve had a friend or two in life that has made them feel special. And, along the way, if that friend were in trouble, they have wanted to be there to help.
That’s what motivated San Antonio resident Tanya Dadez to organize Kristy’s Can-Cer Vive Benefit Barrel Race. She hopes the event will ease some of the financial burdens the disease has caused to Kristy Bryant Flynn, her lifelong friend.
Part of the event’s name is a play on the words “can survive.”
Slated for Saturday, the barrel race is expected to draw at least 100 competitors. It’s a timed race, and those clocking the fastest finish — by racing through the course without hitting a barrel — will win cash awards.
In addition to the races, spectators can see riders and their horses checking out the arena in exhibitions that begin a couple of hours before the competition kicks off.
Many riders will compete with more than one horse, Dadez said.
Admission is free, but barbecued meals will be available for purchase, at $7.50 a plate, including drinks. There also will be vendors and a silent auction, with bidders vying for about 50 different items.
Planning for the event began months ago when Dadez began discussing the idea with Dennis and Tammie Rogers, owners of Double R Arena in Dade City. They generously agreed to host the event, Dadez said.
Ierna’s Heating & Cooling, Chandelle Veterinary Associates and Embroider Too all stepped up to contribute funds to sweeten the purse for the barrel race winners.
Charlene Ierna was quick to help out, Dadez said. She’s also been a dear friend of Flynn’s for years as they both played on the same softball team when they were kids.
Ierna also asked Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que to get involved, Dadez said. The popular barbecue restaurant agreed, donating meals and drinks, with proceeds to benefit Flynn’s family.
Dadez said she felt compelled to find a way to help.
“Kristy and I have been best friends since kindergarten. We went to Sanders Elementary, Pine View Middle and we both graduated from Land O’ Lakes High School,” she said.
Flynn began noticing symptoms she didn’t understand when she was in her 20s. She couldn’t take hot showers, for instance, because they nearly knocked her out. She frequently dropped dishes and other items, because she couldn’t get a tight grip on them.
And then, when she bent over to pick up the items, she felt nauseous when she began to straighten up.
Flynn was diagnosed with her condition in 2008. The disease is a form of blood cancer, and there is no known cure. It is especially rare for someone as young as Flynn to have the condition, according to medical websites.
There has been progress in developing medications, but so far Flynn has not responded well to drugs now available for long-term treatment.
Dadez, who is a barrel racer herself, said she knew that barrel races sometimes are hosted for charitable causes, so she decided to organize this one. She hopes the fundraiser will lessen the financial pressures that Flynn, her husband, Scot, and the couple’s children have faced since Flynn had to stop working.
“She’s just the epitome of innocence and wholesome and everything good that you could possibly imagine,” Dadez said. “She never says an ill word about anybody. She’s an angel, really. I just love her to death.”
Dadez said Flynn wanted to pitch in when she heard about the fundraiser.
“She said, ‘I feel really bad. I feel like I need to be doing something,’” Dadez said. “I said, ‘This is for you and your family. I want you to come out and enjoy, have a good time. This is all about you. You don’t have to worry about anything. We’ve got everything covered.’”
Even though Flynn wants to help, she acknowledges she probably wouldn’t be able to do much. On some days, just making breakfast is about all she has the energy to do. On other days, she runs out of breath just walking out to the family’s mailbox.
Flynn would like to work, but she can’t because she never knows from one day to the next how much energy she’ll have. When she has done a few hours of work, she has found herself wiped out for days afterward, she said.
Despite the challenges, Flynn remains upbeat.
Besides helping to raise money for Flynn, Dadez said she thinks the event will be fun for the entire family. Those attending will have a chance to see horses up close, watch competitive races, eat a nice meal, check out the vendors, and bid on items at the auction.
Spectators should be sure to bring lawn chairs to the event, Dadez added.
Initially, Dadez was hoping to raise at least $3,000 for her friend.
“I do believe, and I’m pretty hopeful, that we’re going to be able to exceed that,” she said.
If you go:
WHAT: Kristy’s Can-Cer Vive Benefit Barrel Race, featuring about 100 racing around barrels, vying for the fastest time and cash prizes
WHERE: Double R Arena, 32640 Amberlea Road, Dade City
WHEN: Aug. 16, exhibitions begin at 4 p.m., show begins at 6 p.m.
COST: Admission for spectators is free. Entry fee for riders is $40 a horse. Event also features barbecued dinners, vendors and a silent auction.
INFO: Tanya Dadez, (813) 787-6448
Published August 13, 2014
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