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Giving back: Money from rodeo goes back to community

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Jason Pounds and his mother, Brenda Rolwing, a breast cancer survivor, pose for a photo. Today's rodeo will fund breast cancer research through special fund-raising projects.
SIKESTON -- Money brought in by the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo goes a long way toward improving the community.

"The Jaycees historically have been our largest contributor," said Michelle Fayette, executive director of the Kenny Rogers Children's Center. "They are big, big supporters of the Center. Last year at telethon their donation was $40,000.

"All the revenue generated after we pay our bills, every profit we get is donated except for start-up money for next year," said Jason Pounds, president of the Sikeston Jaycees. "We donate anywhere from $100 to $30,000 or $40,000 at one time. We've donated just in the last five years three quarter of a million dollars."

While the smaller donations usually aren't big news, they are greatly appreciated and can have a lasting impact such as a recent donation to Heartland Wrestling for wrestling mats.

"We just want to see the community move forward and make the community better, especially for those of us who have kids," Pounds said. "We're just trying to make things better for everybody -- not just in Sikeston, but around Sikeston, too. We want to make the whole area better."

"The Jaycees have pretty much been involved with the Y since our inception. They were one of our founding donors in the mid-'90s when the Y got rolling," said Jeff Partridge, executive director of the YMCA of Southeast Missouri.

Support from the Jaycees did not stop with seed money to get started, according to Partridge.

"In 1997 when we went in to a capital project to renovate the old middle school they were again one of our lead donors with that particular effort. They contributed $60,000 I believe to that project," he recalled. "Most recently, we announced last week they had contributed half a million dollars to the YMCA building expansion campaign."

Partridge said the Jaycees are also regular supporters of the YMCA's "Partnership with Youth Campaign" which was launched in 1999. "They've given between $5,000 and $10,000 each year since it started," he said.

Many of the Jaycee donations are related to improving health care in the area.

"We've truly benefited -- we appreciate everything the Jaycees have done for us," said Blair Moran, executive director of the Missouri Delta Medical Center Foundation. "Last December we received $36,000 from them for the MUSE system to computerize all EKGs. Prior to that, we received $55,000 from them for the dialysis center which we named in their honor. We received $40,000 from them several years ago to help fund the construction of the OB unit and also we received $18,000 from them to purchase a dialysis machine that provides life-saving treatment to those in renal failure. We just appreciate all their efforts on our behalf."

Tonight, Pounds said, $1 from every ticket will go to the local American Cancer Society as part of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign in addition to all profits from the campaign's pink novelty items.

"They not only donate their financial support, but when it's time to set up for the telethon we have heavy equipment to set up and then take down and they have a wonderful group that comes in and does that as well," Fayette noted.

Partridge agreed that in addition to being large contributors, the Jaycees provide more than just financial support.

"We have had and still have numerous past and current Jaycees who have been a part of the YMCA volunteer leadership since its inception, serving on the board of directors committee. Several have been chairman of the board," he said. "So it's not just only the financial support. They've been behind the YMCA organization on their own personal time."

"We should thank our lucky stars everyday that in a community this size, we have a group of professional business men that have families that dedicate their time and efforts to support so many non-profit organizations," Fayette said. "Every person that lives in Sikeston, if not the entire Bootheel, benefits from the Jaycees and the rodeo they put on this time of year."