This year’s Miss Rodeo Utah is Morgan’s own McKenna Hales. When local Farm Bureau agent Gavin McCleary learned about her win, he knew that he wanted to be involved in supporting her “crown.”
“We like to support community and Farm Bureau likes to get behind anything ag related, so I thought it was pretty cool that this story was coming out of Morgan,” said McCleary.
When McCleary learned of the platform she was supporting, he knew that is was the perfect fit with Farm Bureau values and brought it up at their annual meeting.
Morgan Farm Bureau President Randy Sessions noted that when the board of directors met a month ago, they decided that Hales’ platform fit hand in hand with their vision statement which is: “We bring value to every citizen and community through love of God, family, country and the land. We work for those who work to feed and clothe the world.” So they voted to support her efforts and presented her a check for $1,000, which Farm Bureau insurance matched for a total donation of $2,000.
As Hales shared her story, it became abundantly clear why the organization was so interested in supporting this young lady. She related, “I have grown up in agriculture. When I was about 5 or 6 we would take trips over to my grandpa’s and ride horses in the round pen. Ever since I got on a horse I was hooked. I had no fear. We didn’t have the funds for a horse at the time, but I asked everyone I knew for a horse. I asked the tooth fairy, I asked Santa Claus, I asked everyone.”
Hales affectionately related that a few years later, her grandfather gave her his “four legged daughter named Hope.” This horse was orphaned at birth and according to Hales, he literally raised her in his garage. “He gave me my start.”
She started queening when she was just 8 years-old. “I tried out for the local Morgan Fair Queen competition. I did all four years of high school rodeo. I participated in almost every event and won several buckles and saddles. It was just something that I totally, completely love.”
When Hales won the title of Miss Rodeo Utah, she didn’t want the experience to only be about her and her title. She wanted to make it about something bigger than herself. So along with promoting agriculture and rodeo, Hales decided to promote cancer prevention and awareness.
“My grandfather was diagnosed this past year with terminal esophageal cancer and I can’t save his life, but there are things that I can do. I can give hope to other people,” she said tenderly. “If your life hasn’t been affected by cancer, it is only a matter of time before it is.”
Realizing that, Hales wanted to be able to make a difference. “I want to educate people about the effects of cancer and what you can do to prevent it. Utah has one of the lowest screening rates in the country.” According to Hales, Utah ranks 47th in the nation for cancer screenings and studies show that a person has a 30 percent greater chance of survival if the cancer is caught and treated early enough.
Mom, Becky Hales, stated with concern, “We were shocked at this information. There are things that we can do as a society to help those screening rates. We can help raise money for research and that’s great, but there are other ways we can affect the survivability rates. If she even helps one or two people, then it was worth something.”
“If I could save even one person, that person matters to a whole bunch of people,” concluded Hales. She thanked Farm Bureau and specifically McCleary for spearheading the effort. “I am so grateful for you and your support. With enough support, I hope to take my platform to the national level when I compete for Miss Rodeo America.”
Melissa Worell, regional president Farm Bureau on the insurance side of things; Matthew Hargreaves, vice president – communications and Farm Bureau news editor; and Spencer Gibbons, northern regional manager were also in attendance.
The Farm Bureau is a federation of 28 county Farm Bureaus. Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in Utah and the United States.
Proceeds from the insurance side of the coin go to support the federation. Through this, numerous legislative, educational and service-to-member programs are provided for the benefit of Farm Bureau members. So by choosing a Farm Bureau agent to help with your insurance needs, you are directly supporting farmers and ranchers in your area.
Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization of farm and ranch families united for the purposes of addressing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being. Their mission statement is to “inspire all Utah families to connect, succeed and grow through the miracle of agriculture.”
Her big fundraiser took place yesterday, but if you are interested in supporting Miss Rodeo Utah’s goals of increasing cancer awareness, you can donate at mru2017.gesture.com.