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Houston Rodeo Auction Angels Swoop In to Make Sure Kids Raising Steers Have a Sweet Time — A Posse of Do Gooders

Membership Has Its Privileges — Ones Greater Than Money

BY // 03.13.24

Full-time jeweler/dedicated part-time philanthropist Tony Bradfield and a posse of RodeoHouston enthusiasts, known as the Rodeo Auction Angels, are rounding up supporters for this Saturday, March 16th’s Junior Market Steer Auction in the noble effort of ensuring that no participating youngster goes home wanting.

Some 420 steers raised by kids aged 9 to 18 will be put up for auction and without the Rodeo Auction Angels not all would be granted the complete experience.

“As the long day gets closer to an end, the room begins to empty. Rodeo Auction Angels patiently waits until the bidding slows down to start buying bottom lots,” says Dana Barton, who founded the  Rodeo Auction Angels with Bradfield last year. “This is when the RAA makes sure that all students get the full experience of wining a spot at the auction. Whether first or last in the auction, all students deserve the best experience.”

It is a win-win for the 4-H and Future Farmers of America youngsters who have spent the past year raising their animals from calves to steers, a 365 day commitment that teaches responsibility, respect and leadership.

The importance of these disciplines is a concept that rings Bradfield’s chimes along with those of Barton. In 2023, they were able to purchase 30 steers. The hope this year is to purchase 50 to 60 steers in the auction.

Barton is veteran RodeoHouston participant, having been involved since she showed cattle in 1992. She has been a member of the Steer Auction Committee since 2018 while Bradfield, owner and CEO of Tenenbaum Jewelers, has been on the committee since 2019.

The duo is all in for guaranteeing that each of the 420 youngsters, whose steers qualify for the auction out of some 2,500 entries, enjoy the entire experience. That means having someone bid on and buy their steer. It’s the full circle of the experience. (All youngsters earning auction status receive a minimum scholarship contribution of $8,500 from RodeoHouston.)

A young fellow with his charge at the 2023 Junior Market Steer Auction at RodeoHouston
A young fellow with his charge at the 2023 Junior Market Steer Auction at RodeoHouston

“Each of the kids goes back to school proud that someone bid on and bought their steer,” Bradfield says. “It’s the complete experience of the auction. They get to meet the buyer and have their photograph taken with him. They get to talk about raising the animal. And they thank the buyer.”

It’s a valuable learning experience top to bottom, Bradfield adds.

Upping the ante on donations is noted Houston philanthropist Hallie Vanderhider, who has once again created a matching grant of up to $50,000 for any donation made to the Rodeo Auction Angels before this Sunday, March 17.

While donations at any level are accepted, Rodeo Auction Angels membership starts at $6,500. As the membership level of giving increases so do the perks, all of which — plus donation information — can be found here.

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