The barrel racing industry rallied to raise $250,000 for fellow barrel racer Maggie Wright after professional trainer diagnosed with stomach cancer at age 34.
- a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
On June 9, 2023, barrel racer Maggie Wright of Stephenville, Texas, was unexpectedly diagnosed with stomach cancer. Since the diagnosis, members of the barrel racing industry from across the United States joined forces to show the 34-year-old professional futurity horse trainer with lifetime earnings of nearly $175,000 that she can not only win atop a horse but win against cancer, too.
With the futurity horse industry being like a family to Wright, she has drawn compassion from every corner of the barrel racing world. From breeders to competitors, veterinarians to producers, the barrel racing industry came together to raise $250,000 in just one short month to aid in Wright’s hospital expenses.
Aside from donations, friends, family and clients stepped in to delegate responsibilities among each other taking care of Wright’s personal and outside horses to help ease Wright’s stress while she began undergoing treatment.
The first person to step in and begin fundraising for Wright was longtime friend and professional futurity horse trainer Angela Festervan of Benton, Louisiana, who started a GoFundMe which now exceeds $53,000 in donations.
“When Maggie told me about her diagnosis, I instantly knew she could beat this. I also knew she was going to need the help and support of others to make it easier on her to do so,” Festervan said.
Inspired to help make a difference, Rosie Bradley of Collinsville, Texas, barrel racer and family friend of the Wrights, has been instrumental in the fundraising of donations for Wright.
“God laid it upon my heart to give Maggie my time to help her in any way I could, so that’s what I did,” said Bradley, who organized and put together a barrel race, silent auction, and online auction in just 19 days that raised close to $200,000 alone.
County Line Arena of Wills Point, Texas, graciously donated their arena as well as time and efforts to help make the Maggie Wright Benefit Barrel Race possible June 24.
Fellow producers accommodated by moving their barrel races that had the same dates set for months, and donors stepped in to add $7,350 to the race along with buckles and prizes for divisional winners.
All office fees along with 25% of each entry fee were donated to Wright along with a portion of photo sales by event photographer Josey Photography. The concession stand also donated 20% of the food and drink sales to Wright from the event.
Ashlee Carlee, a longtime client of Wright’s, designed T-shirts for the barrel race and sold over 150 shirts, with all proceeds going to Maggie.
The tractor drivers, gate crew, barrel setters and office team all donated their day to Maggie, along with a tractor and drag donated by Clay Deen of Wills Point, Texas, so the barrel race could drag every three runners and run faster and more efficiently with two tractors.
With close to 400 entries, barrel racers from across the United States made an effort to attend the benefit, with many barrel racers donating their money won back to Wright.
Wright, who wasn’t able to attend the benefit, was nearly lost with words when expressing her gratitude to those who made the benefit barrel race and silent auction possible.
“I am really looking forward to watching Maggie run at her reunion barrel race next year,” Festervan said.
Along with the benefit barrel race and silent auction at County Line Arena, the online auction organized by Bradley was a huge success in raising money for Wright and provided an outlet to give for those who were unable to attend the race.
Some of the most sought-after stallions in the industry, such as The Goodbye Lane, Fire Water Flit, JL Dash Ta Heaven, DM High Roller, and Eddie Stinson — all stallions who were booked full for 2023 — offered 2023 or 2024 contracts.
Hart Farms, LLC donated a breeding to their stallion Chasin Misty (Chasin Firewater x Mistys Dash Of Fame x Dash Ta Fame), along with matching the amount the breeding was purchased for through a private donation from Hart Farms, LLC.
Along with stallions, Kelly Conrado donated an embryo out of the standout mare Cfour Tibbie Stinson, a National Finals Rodeo qualifier with lifetime earnings of over $500,000.
Between The Reins, composed of champion professional futurity horse trainers Ashley Schafer, Jolene Montgomery and Joy Wargo, graciously donated a one- day clinic for five barrel racers, which raised over $11,000 itself.
“It was amazing to see the barrel racing community come together to help and support a fellow member of our industry. The barrel racing industry is truly unlike any other,” Bradley said while explaining that she could not possibly thank every single person who donated to Maggie’s cause. “There were just so many people who stepped up to help out.”
The members of the barrel racing community are the reason that the industry is what it is today, with hard working, dedicated, selfless individuals who are willing to put a horse’s needs above their very own. If barrel racers will do that for an animal, they will do it for fellow members of the barrel racing community.
The outpouring of industry-wide support is a representation of the barrel racers’ hearts and characters. Many have banded together to support Maggie through this difficult time, and their individual integrity is evident in their daily interactions in and out of the arena.
The barrel racer will receive a heartbreaking phone call from the vet, yet still ask you how your run went with tears hidden behind a smile.Morgan Anderson
The barrel racer will drive all night to make a race, yet still stay out late the next evening to give a lesson to a fellow competitor in need of help with their horse.
The barrel racer will hit a barrel to win the race, yet still turn around and help you and your horse in the arena with humbleness toward their sport.
The barrel racer will stay up all night with a colicikng horse, yet still be the first one in the barn the next morning, tending to the other horses’ needs in the barn.
The barrel racer will be running late to a barrel race, yet still stop on the side of the road to help a fellow competitor change a tire on a horse trailer.
The barrel racer is tough, gritty, humble and selfless.
The barrel racer is you, me, and Maggie Wright.
Festervan best described Maggie’s devoted life to the barrel racing industry in one quote.
“Women are tough and rather coarse. They were built for the raw, crude work of bearing children. You’d be amazed at what they can do when they divert that baby-hatching energy into some other enterprise,” by Tom Robbins from the novel Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.
Bradley and Festervan request prayers for Maggie’s journey of healing. If you feel compelled to donate to ease the burden of Maggie’s expenses, please direct private donations to:
PayPal: [email protected]
“I can’t hardly find the words to express how overwhelmed with gratitude I am for all the help and support I have received from my family, friends, and the barrel racing community. Thank you will never truly be enough for everything that has been done for me,” Wright said as she tried to find the words to thank each and every person who has donated to her cause in any way, shape or form.