In his prime, a seasoned cowboy like Floyd Cross only needed some guts and about three seconds to wrestle a steer to the ground.
But to wrestle a far greater beast into submission, it took considerably more time and bravery. Cross battled recurring bouts of liver and colon cancer for 12 years before ultimately winning the fight.
In celebration of Cross’ victories against cancer, cowboys from across the country will gather on May 3 for the fifth annual Cross Family Steer Wrestling Jackpot and Raffle in Kingfisher, Okla. The event will benefit research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Rodeo has always played a significant role in the Cross family’s lives, and they especially relied on their friends in this close-knit community during Floyd’s illness. It only seems fitting that they chose rodeo as a way to celebrate his triumph and raise money in hopes of happy endings for other families facing similar challenges.
“Our rodeo friends were always there for us, and the idea for this event came from some of them,” said Sherrie Cross, Floyd’s daughter and event coordinator. “They said, ‘Hey, you ought to start your own jackpot,’ and it really got me thinking. Now that dad was cancer free, we asked his doctor who he thought we should donate to. He suggested OMRF.”
Despite humble beginnings with just 15 cowboys competing in the first year, the event has grown exponentially in its brief existence.
Last year’s event raised nearly $5,000 and featured more than 70 competitors. Sherrie Cross said she anticipates more than 90 “bulldoggers” from all across the U.S. and a handful of countries in the Western Hemisphere to compete in this year’s event, which will again raise funds for cancer, heart and childhood disease research at OMRF.
“We are thankful to have such great support from people all across the state whose lives have been positively impacted by the work done by our scientists,” said OMRF Director of Development Kelley McGuire. “The Cross family is a perfect example of how everyone can give back and help us find answers about the diseases that affect us all. Their grassroots efforts are making a difference.”
In addition to the steer wrestling competition and t-shirt sales, the family hopes to garner donations and will sell tickets for raffle items, including a Pendleton Whiskey gift basket, tablet, hand-crocheted afghan, jewelry, artwork, a custom art-deco steer head, and prime rib-eye steaks and pork.
The event will be held at the Kingfisher Roundup Club Arena on 13th Street and Elks Road in Kingfisher at 1 p.m. on May 3. To enter or for more information, call Sherrie Cross at 405-375-4872 or 405-313-1776. Entries will close at noon on the day of the event.