When Scott Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, he did what most everyone who receives that kind of news does: he went to the hospital, to talk to the experts. But, what Wells did after receiving treatment at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Cancer Center is something that no one had ever done before: he started a barrel race.
In 2017, Wells organized the Friends of St. Frances Cabrini Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund Barrel Race as a way to give back to patients in need. The Patient Assistance Fund helps patients with gas cards, pharmacy cards, hotel rooms, meals and more while they are receiving their treatments. In its first year, the event drew almost 500 riders.“My father used to put on professional rodeos for a living, and we basically rodeo for a living,” said Wells. “I team rope, and my girls run barrels (Wells’ daughter Brookelyn is 16 and has competed at many local and National Little Britches events, his stepdaughter, Emily Pierce, was also a local barrel racing competitor before focusing on college studies). I’m not someone who can write a giant check or help out like that financially, so this event is my way to give back to other people.”
Last year’s single-day event was a huge success, and the 2018 event is shaping up to be even better. The 2017 Race was a single-day event with local vendors and community support, held at LSUA. This year’s event has expanded to two days. Wells expects at least 1,200 riders, has registered vendors, sponsors and riders from across the country, and has been forced to move to much larger facilities in Kinder to accommodate the participants and supporters. “When we talked about doing this thing in the beginning, I told them, ‘I don’t want this fixing flower beds or paving a parking lot. The Patient Assistance Fund–that’s where it’s going,’” said Wells. “We gave $38,000 last year. This year, I have a goal I want to do at least $65,000. I knew that [the event] would grow because of what it was for. But I never dreamed it would grow this quickly and go this fast–it touches my heart.” The event has also been approved through the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and the Better Barrel Races Association (BBR). The money earned will count toward national finals for the winners.
“For us here at the CHRISTUS Cabrini Cancer Center, seeing this event is truly humbling,” said Debbie Guy, MSW, LCSW. “When you see someone battling cancer who chooses to pay it forward, it’s very humbling. So much of what we do is put into our mission, and when we have people who see us doing that, it touches them that we really do follow that mission. It’s so powerful because…it’s about us living a life of caring for our patients. Patients see that, want to care and give to other patients. The reaction of people like Scott Wells–this community–shows us that we are doing our job for them and for our mission.”
When Wells was diagnosed with cancer again in 2017, he showed no signs of slowing down in his life or with the Race. He sees this event as more than a pursuit–it’s a legacy for his family, for others he’s met in treatment along the way, for friends he’s made and lost. “I’m keeping the faith, and I’m not going nowhere,” said Wells. “I got a long road ahead of me, and that’s just the way it’s going to be…Next year we need to make it a three-day show, and we need to help support people with cancer. And we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of so many people, especially Heather Bertrand and Turnin’ 3 Productions.”
“I know it touches me being able to help people, and [cancer] affects everyone,” said Wells. “My wife just lost her daddy to cancer. There’s a kid down the road from me, has cancer. There’s a lot to do, and this is just my way to give back to the people that need it.”
The Second Annual Friends of St. Frances Cabrini Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund Barrel Race will take place at The Pavilion in Kinder, Louisiana on June 22nd and 23rd. Come join the fun, admission is free.
For more information, visit www.turnin3productions.com.