Meet the Member BJ Billingsley
story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
story by Lindsay Whelchel
It’s no surprise that Suzanne McCracken’s life motto is to, “live with right intentions, doing the right thing, and with purity in heart.” The Arkansas cowgirl makes doing good by helping others a priority.
She is on the board of directors for the Arkansas Cowboys Association, leading their junior barrel racing program and acting as chairperson in this year’s first annual rodeo queen contest. At home, she’s a wife and mother, and in the working world, Suzanne is a licensed associate counselor.
“I work with children, adolescents and adults with mental health issues, so I’m in the helping field. I like to promote positive attitudes and overcoming challenges,” Suzanne explains. She emphasizes the importance of learning from every situation. “I like to help people overcome things they’ve had in their past, and I enjoy people’s success.”
Suzanne lives with her husband Dale, also a director with ACA in the bull-riding program, in Cave City, Arkansas. The couple has five children between them. Suzanne’s two daughters, Kelsey, and Kiley, run barrels and several other rodeo events. Then, there is Dale’s son Jimmy, a bull rider, son Jaime and daughter Whitney.
Suzanne’s home is filled with her other great love, animals. She has goats, and sheep and rabbits, as well as helps her husband run a commercial poultry farm.
And though Suzanne jokes that she likes to relax when she can, in truth, she thrives on keeping busy, whether with her animals, family or her garden. One of the most important things to Suzanne is to focus on living a happy life.
“Life is short,” she says and adds, “live life in happiness. My husband is a comedian, and we laugh every day. It’s always something. We laugh at each other, we laugh at things. There is not enough laughter in the world, and people aren’t happy, and I always try to find something positive or happy about an event. Even if it’s bad, there’s got to be something good that came from it.”
One way Suzanne lives in happiness, is through rodeo.
Though she always has had her own horses, it wasn’t until her daughters started barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying, that Suzanne got into competition.
She began with team sorting and penning with her daughters and then tried her hand at barrel racing. Mostly though, Suzanne spends her time helping. Her roles with the barrel racing program and the rodeo queen contest keep her schedule pretty full. It’s an important opportunity to acknowledge women and young girls in the sport of rodeo and showcase their horsemanship skills, Suzanne says, and explains that rodeo, as a whole, is important for the entire family.
“My husband and I are firm believers that it’s a good healthy environment,” she says. The couple, with help from daughter Whitney, even produces their own family rodeo, D&S Family Rodeo, held in Sidney, Arkansas. “It’s a good place for the family to go and enjoy each other and the camaraderie with other people who enjoy horses,” Suzanne says, citing the ability to compete and have fun at the same time. “It’s just an all-around good, healthy environment in a world that’s lacking that,” she says, forever full of hope and positivity.
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