Two tragic accidents now generate funds to help others

by Toni Hopper
Rowdy Swanson - memorial tribute photo
Photo by Dee Dodson Rowdy Swanson - memorial tribute photo
Photo by Dee Dodson

Rowdy Swanson of Empire was killed in a bull riding accident at a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo in Mineral Wells, Texas, on Sept. 17, 2020. Rowdy, who attended Empire High School and lived in Duncan, was familiar to those who enjoyed rodeos. He was a member of the Oklahoma State University rodeo team and a PRCA bull rider.

Dana Bowman is a professional skydiver, but a mid-air practice collision resulted in the loss of his legs and the life of his partner.

"Mr. Bowman was an Army Golden Knight and was doing practice exercises when he and his partner collided during free fall," said Rowdy's father, Jarrel Swanson.

This year, at the 3[rd] annual Rowdy Swanson Memorial Bull Riding event, Bowman will present the American Flag - skydiving into the Claud Gill Arena. It's a pairing that Swanson has anxiously waited for over a year. "We tried to get Mr. Bowman last year, but he was booked."

The Rowdy Swanson Memorial Bull Riding event is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 9, at the Claud Gill Arena, south of the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center in Duncan. All proceeds benefit the Rowdy Swanson Memorial Scholarship. Additionally, donations will be accepted for Bowman's foundation, Halo For Freedom Wounded Warriors.

"As a memorial to Rowdy's legacy, we decided to set up an endowed scholarship at Oklahoma State University to help young adults go to college to pursue an education and rodeo at the college level," said Swanson.

"The scholarship will continue forever as it is endowed. The first two years we were able to give $1,250 each year, and in 2023, we gave two scholarships, one $1,250 and another just over $3,000," Swanson said.

"Bull Riding was Rowdy's life and he had just received his PRCA card to start rodeoing professionally at his death."

The annual bull riding event is the only fundraiser for the scholarship and to date, more than $70,000 has been generated and applied to the endowment.

"This year we are going to have around 30 entries at the bull riding, and will buck 30 bulls in the long go-round and the top 10 bull riders will get the chance for another bull in the short go-round," he said. The bull riders have no entry fees because those have been covered by sponsors. There will be a $5,400 purse, along with Champion and Reserve Champion Belt Buckles awarded, and an Outlaw Bull Riding Glove to the overall champion.

There also will be two calf scrambles this year, one for girls and one for boys. The winners will receive a new bicycle. Concessions, vendor booths and a silent auction are also part of the event.
"We will be asking for donations at the event. Dream Team Prosthetics of Duncan has donated $1,000 to help with the foundation as well," Swanson said.

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