More than $2,000 was raised at a horse poker rally Oct .9 and 10 in Donalda for a life-sized bronze statue of world-famous steer-wrestling horse Willy.
“We probably netted around $2,300,” said Becky Clement, one of the organizers of the committee to raise funds for the “Willy Project” under the Donalda Community Arts Society.
“Poker rallies aren’t the best fundraisers, but it was about the ride.”
With beautiful warm and sunny weather, the ride attracted 70 riders on Saturday and 60 on Sunday, as local participants were joined from people who traveled from Bashaw, Camrose, Red Deer, Delburne and other parts of central Alberta in addition to Calgary and Airdrie.
“Willy rode the trail riderless on Saturday,” said Clement.
“That was a nice surprise and he rode the entire ride.”
Participants were delighted with the event.
“Everyone on the ride loved the natural scenery,“ said Clement.
As the first fundraiser to for the projected estimated at $200,000, the society continues to seek further funding for the life-size bronze sculpture of a galloping Willy, carrying a leaning bulldogger about to grip the horns of a fleeing steer.
The proposed location for the sculpture is on the east side of Railway Avenue with the picturesque coulee providing a suitable backdrop for the artwork.
“We plan to do another poker rally next year,” said Clement.
“We will also be applying for government grants.”
Another major fundraiser is the sale of maquettes (small models) of the final statue design.
At the Calgary Stampede in July, champion cowboy Greg Cassidy announced that Willy, his family’s highly decorated steer wrestling horse, will retire later this year.
The 24-year-old brown gelding has carried bulldoggers to four world championships, six Canadian titles, an Olympic gold medal and more than $3 million in prize money.
For more information on the project contact Don Todd at 403-883-2294, Clement 403-883-2436 or Forrest Hagen at 780-860-1313.