Paying it forward, giving back is alive and well

When you have an opportunity to travel the High Plains, paying it forward and giving back are rules of the road.

That spirit was on display at the recent Roundup Rodeo in Dodge City, Kansas.

Steve Deges, the operations manager at the MJE Livestock Equipment, Montezuma, Kansas, wore his volunteer hat as a committee member of the Roundup Rodeo. He has watched the rodeo grow and his mechanical expertise was on display in the installation of aluminum bleachers in the arena. The new bleachers replaced wood bleachers but the story does not end there. The wooden grandstands were made possible in 1993 following the closing of the St. Mary of the Plains, a four-year Catholic college. The bleachers came from a football field that had served the college for many years.

Thanks to a contribution from Community Facilities Advisory Board, Dodge City, the aluminum bleachers will provide long-lasting value. “It should be trouble-free for a long time,” he said.

However, Deges said the Roundup Rodeo board never wanted to forget about the contributions of the St. Mary that provided quality seating. The north part of the arena has been a top priority for the committee. Thirteen years ago the committee made improvements that provide a great perspective for people who want to watch the women’s barrel racers come charging out to compete.

The St. Mary’s gift will continue to be paid forward, Deges said. The toe boards have been cut into squares and the Roundup Rodeo brand has been burned onto them and they are selling for $5 apiece. The idea by other committee members was that people who had ties to the college or the community at large might want to preserve important local history.

The memorabilia was on sale during the rodeo and people can inquire about purchasing them by contacting the Roundup Arena at 620-225-2244. Proceeds from those sales will help fund future improvement projects, he said.

Anyone who has been associated with community projects understands that behind the scenes work is the key. Growing up in a small northwest Kansas community, Deges knows full well that giving back includes paying it forward. The dividends may not be known for many years but when the work and investment is done for the right reasons with the right heart and right frame of mind, they will turn out much better than originally planned.

Many times those who live in the rural communities are asked to help with their time, talents or financial gifts. The belief in doing the right thing never leaves many High Plains residents. So much good has occurred in rural America and it is more than a dot on a map because of the spirit of those who live there.

Congress and the president might benefit from observing the work of the Roundup Rodeo committee and many similar committees across the High Plains.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].