Jackie Harris has been through hell and back, and her life experiences with death, disease and despair have taught her never to stop swinging. Now that this Western Pennsylvanian cowgirl has made it through her own rough patches, she’s on a mission to help others in a way that hasn’t quite been done before in the world of barrel racing. With the help of Kick Ass Cowgirls and lots of friends, Jackie is riding for a cause. Find out all of the good things Jackie is doing in our three-part interview, just in time for the holiday season. If you’re looking for a way to make an impact this time of year, look no further!
Tell us how you got involved in Kick Ass Cowgirls, and what you’re doing with them now.
I got involvedwith the Kick Ass Cowgirls by chance. I just happened upon their page on Facebook one day. I read about all the great things that were happening there–how they would always “pay it forward” and help others in need. I loved everything about them and how they supported each other through hardships and difficulties–or just gave each other a kick in the ass at times. At that time, they were trying to raise enough funds for a new saddle for a little girl with Retts Syndrome. I started checking every day, and helping anybody that was in need. Then, I noticed they had a “Cowgirl In Need” Contest. Described as, “Any up and coming horsewoman who needs a little extra push to get into the spotlight, get down the road to victory or is just plain down on her luck, let us know about her.” With my plans for 2012, I thought it could be a way to help me raise some funds for fuel for 2012, a friend, Beth Penland, nominated me along with several others-and I won!
I became their “poster child” for their newest contest “Race for a Cause” for 2012. I helped them put some ideas together, they wrote up the rules and are out there getting tons of awesome sponsors and prizes. The basic outline of the contest: You pay a membership fee, which gets you into the contest, a members only tshirt and a decal. You race in the same arenas you always do throughout the year. You designate a percentage (10%-100%) to go to your favorite designated charity. You keep track of your winnings and turn them into KAC. The “points” go off of your total earnings for each quarter, not your donated amount. There are four regions. Each region will have a winner/top money earner every quarter. So prizes will be given out 4 times a year to each of the four region’s. Then there will be a BIG winner for end of the year with all regions combined.
It is a great way for barrel racers to donate to a charity close to their heart and have a chance at some Kick Ass prizes as well.
What inspired you to start riding for this cause?
The thing that inspired me to race for a cause is losing my step father to cancer in October 2010 after a year long battle, then my father three months later to a heart attack in January 2011. I had several other friends and family struck with the same diseases, and always would see on Facebook friends with loved ones that were struck as well. I felt so helpless. I wanted to do more. Of course I prayed for each and every one, but I wanted to physically do something for them. My mare started improving these last several years, becoming more consistant. Seemingly, I would come home with paychecks every time I went out. I have waited for this caliber of horse since I had started barrel racing at the age of 12. One day while waiting to enter the arena, excited at my success this year, the thought came to me-I could take these winnings and donate it to The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, and of course because I volunteer at several animal rescues, some to those organizations as well. I feel fortunate enough to finally have the horse, a great family, to have all that I need in order to participate in this sport I love so much and to spend time with my friends. I have found out in the last year or so, that life really is too short, I am thankful for what I have, and want to pay any extra I receive forward. I have started to put away the money from my last several races as well into my “fuel fund”- the way it made me feel, racing for others, is so much better than just racing for myself. I started a saddle cross collection as well, where friends and family can give me the initials of loved ones they know that are fighting, lost fight or won fight to cancer or heart disease. I feel in a small way, I am racing for them as well. I saw a quote once by Margaret Meed it stated, “Never doubt that a small group of citizens can change the World. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. So, I will do my best in 2012, and hope to raise as much money was possible for the charities.
What associations do you plan to compete in?
I plan on competing with the IBRA, Penn-Ohio BRA, and getting my IPRA card as well to compete at some of the rodeos in the area or a reasonable distance. It’s been a dream of mine to get my IPRA card, but if I didn’t have a consistent enough horse, I wasn’t about to do so. Again, life is short, so I’m going to do so this year while I “Race for a Cause”!