Story by Mackenzie Geesen Rodeo has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To say that I was born […]
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Meet the Member Mitch Hickey
Story by Heidi Geesen
On a cold January day in 1994, The Colorado Junior Rodeo Association was birthed at the Old Stock Yards Bar in the historic National Western Stockyards in Denver Colorado during the National Western. Two sisters, Tammy and Mitch, a brother n law, Dave (Mona) Wahlart, and a few friends were having a conversation over some Colorado Kool-aide about what they could do to help their kids advance their rodeo careers. Not only did they want a place for them to hone their crafts, they wanted them to be able to do it while winning lots of money, not just prizes. April of that year, at Arena Del Ray, their vision came to life. The CJRA offered opportunities that would make other associations change their formats to stay afloat or get left in the dust. One of the major ground breaking changes, besides the cash payout, and the addition of the Parent/Child Team Roping driving home the idea and concept of a family organization, was the addition of the Pee-Wee division. Those major changes were not enough for this group of talented people though. They also wanted the rodeos to run in a manner that kids and parents would not be tied up at the rodeo all day long. Different divisions would have different start times throughout the day to help alleviate this problem. Next the decided that they also needed to give saddles to every yearend event winner in every event in every age group. This would take lots of support from sponsors, families and communities. Gathering sponsors wasn’t easy, but once they set their mind to it, and with the right people on the board, the sponsors slowly began to come in. Many of those original sponsors still continue to donate to the growing association to this day some 27 years later. The only original member of the CJRA is the glue that holds it all together is the CJRAs beloved secretary Mitch Hickey. Mitch and her husband Travis took their son Jace to the CJRA when it was getting off the ground. After Jace graduated and moved on, Mitch did not. In its 27-year history the CJRA has had one secretary and that is Mitch. Tammy Ellerman, founding CJRA president and sister said, “Mitch is the best bookkeeper and organized person that I have ever known and can juggle a lot of balls. That’s why we said if she would secretary it when we started the Association that would be the only way we could do it. She loves the kids and is truly committed to making a difference. We just could never have existed without her. She is the rock and the rock star of the CJRA.” Anyone who has competed or been part of a CJRA knows how true this is. Before every rodeo Mitch makes a timeline of how the day will run, which event at what time. Those time lines, barring a major breakdown, might as well be printed as the gospel, they are always true as rain.
“I was one of the original members in ’94 of the CJRA as a sophomore in high school. Later on, I judged quite a few rodeos and even supplied the calves for the CJRA for four years. Now my wife Heidi and I are on the board and taking our kids. One thing that has never changed in all my CJRA dealings is Mitch. She runs a tight ship and puts up with absolutely no bullshit. She does it simply for the smiles on the kids faces. Mitch never asks or wants any kind of recognition. All she asks for at the end of day, is for a cold Coors Light,” said Dean Geesen of his experiences with Mitch and the CJRA.
Mitch not only holds the CJRA together she also is a major driving force behind the continued success of Superior Livestock and has been for 30 years.
Thank you is not near enough for all that this fine lady has done for not only the CJRA, but its parents, competitors, and anyone who had ever associated with the CJRA. Thank you, Mitch, for your 27 years of service to the CJRA and its family. The CJRA would not have made it this far or this long without you.