Ricky Cooper, president of the United Independent Trail Riders Association and Charlotte Laws, coordinator and one of the original founders of the association, joined with hundreds of fellow riders Sunday night to kick off the 2015 rodeo season.
“It is week-long affair and we take it back to the old, old West and end the ride in Memorial Park,” said Cooper.
But for the 500 – 600 member Association, comprised of 16 riders clubs, the goal goes beyond trail riding, says Cooper.
The group has raised approximately $5,500 for scholarships this year.
“We help our kids and provide scholarships and are also partnering with the food bank. It is not all about trail riding all of the time but about making yourself visible in the community when the trail ride is over,” said Cooper.
Laws, president of Stone Cold Rough Riders, has volunteered with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 9 years.
The group not only sponsors scholarships which are given out during the HLSR, but makes an impact in the community throughout the year.
“We help with the elderly, host a Turkey Drive during Thanksgiving, a coat and clothing drive, a toy drive during Christmas time and a bicycle giveaway throughout the year,” said Law.
“I love what I do, I have a passion for it and always want to find ways to help.” said Law.
Laws tips her hat to the associations that formed before the UITA, including Southwestern Trail Riders Association, led by Fred and Rosetta Gray and Liz Cook and Southwest Association led by Alex Prince.
At the end of the seven-day ride, organizations are eligible to win trophies in various categories.
“We are here to celebrate Black heritage, but help not only people of color, but anyone in need,” said Laws.