Make the Stampede part of your story – leave a legacy gift and support youth development

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The Young Canadians show their zest for life!

“You don’t know this yet, but you are about to win your second world championship and will go on to win your third next summer! Remember how you feel right now. The passion, the strength, the determination, they will follow you forever,” wrote Katie a Calgary Stampede Showband member in a reflection letter to herself.

For Katie and many others, being a part of the Calgary Stampede’s performing arts programs is about more than performance excellence, it’s about building confidence. Since joining the Stampede Showband, Katie’s confidence has soared and she’s become part of a community of champions.

The Calgary Stampede Showband are five-time world champions and challenge young Calgarians to think about what it means to be a citizen, an active member of their community, while learning about western heritage.

May is Leave a Legacy month and the perfect time to finalize your legacy and become part of the Stampede’s story. A planned gift to the Calgary Stampede Foundation will help build the next generation of community builders, change-makers and trailblazers.

“When you support the Calgary Stampede Foundation, you are supporting programs that motivate and engage youth, empowering them to do amazing things. These programs are an important part of the fabric of our city and create a generation of young people with the skills, confidence and drive to make the future brighter,” says Sandra Lunder, manager, philanthropy & community investment.

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The Calgary Stampede and Calgary Stampede Foundation are extremely proud to create opportunities that support our talented youth, allowing them to grow into the leaders of tomorrow.

By becoming part of the Stampede’s story your generosity will enhance our performing arts, agriculture programs and unique educational experiences, such as: the Calgary Stampede Showband, The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, 4-H programs, Stampede School and the OH Ranch Education Program.

Past president of the Calgary Stampede and generous donor, Bob Thompson sheds some light on why he chose to support the Stampede, “For me the choice was an easy one. My family has a long history with the organization and I understand and believe in the great contributions the Stampede makes to the community and to youth achievement. The difference these programs make is nothing short of amazing.”

Without donor contributions, we wouldn’t be able to offer youth the opportunity to realize their potential, hone their talents and build valuable leadership capabilities.

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The Calgary Stampede Showband has 140 members and travels all over the world!

“We appreciate every donor and contribution to help the Stampede continue its important work of shaping the future of our city,” shares Lunder.

What is planned giving?

A planned gift is a donation you make during your lifetime, but which the Calgary Stampede will not receive until sometime in the future. There are several types of planned gifts, such as: bequests in your will. We can work with you to tailor-make a gift that helps you fulfill the lasting legacy you want to leave.

Together we can make a difference in the lives of the youth in our communities.To discuss opportunities to make the Calgary Stampede part of your legacy, please contact:

Sandra Lunder, manager, philanthropy & community investment 403.261.9345 or slunder@calgarystampede.com.

Calgary Stampede Talent Search live auditions return to Boyce Theatre

For over 35 years, the Calgary Stampede Talent Search has been finding and nurturing young amateur performing artists, seeking the brightest talent from across Canada. This weekend, May 5 – 7, 2017, auditions once again begin in search of young entertainers seeking the limelight, at the Boyce Theatre located on Stampede Park.

Taking the stage at the 2016 Calgary Stampede Talent Search

Taking the stage at the 2016 Calgary Stampede Talent Search

Billed as a unique experience helping talented Canadian youth expand their artistic passions, young performers 6-21 years of age are invited down to Stampede Park to give it their all, taking the stage to impress audiences and judges alike. Performers 6 – 12 years of age will compete for a spot in the Stampede Week competition and development opportunities. Performers 13 – 21 years of age will compete for a spot in the Stampede Week competition, the chance to win the Grand Prize of $10,000 cash, a one-of-a-kind belt buckle, and a customized performer development package. Continue reading

Introducing Calgary Stampede’s newest board members

On March 21, 2017, the Calgary Stampede’s shareholders elected three new directors to the Stampede board: Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Dave Lantz and Stuart O’Connor. The board further approved the appointments of three additional directors: Lesley Conway, Greg Kwong and Cindy Provost. The biographies for all of these new directors can be found below.

The Stampede’s board is currently comprised of 20 shareholder-elected directors, four government-appointed directors and five board-approved externally-appointed directors. The externally-appointed directors from the larger Calgary community provide the board with supplementary expertise from specific business sectors that are key to supporting the strength of the Stampede’s leadership in light of the organization’s Master Plan and Strategic Plan initiatives and developments.

David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board, commented on the newly appointed board members, saying ”Lesley, Greg and Cindy will bring tremendous expertise to the board as we move forward with plans to expand the BMO Convention Centre and our youth education platform. They are leaders in Calgary and lend to the Stampede a broader perspective and representation from our community.”

Warren Connell, chief executive officer, added “These individuals understand where the Stampede is going and are passionate about helping us get there.”

The Stampede congratulates the six new directors on their elections and appointments and looks forward to the support of their leadership as the organization drives toward furthering its vision to create a world-class year-round gathering place for the community.

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Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months. Continue reading

Making history: Calgary Stampede celebrates a rodeo icon for International Women’s Day

Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. The Calgary Stampede has an illustrious history of showcasing the outstanding talent of women in western performances. At a time when women were refused the right to vote, western performance and rodeo stars such as Bertha Blancett and Flores LaDue were achieving success and fame as part of the first Calgary Stampede. For more about the exploits of these pioneer cowgirls, see last year’s blog post for International Women’s Day here.

Through the years, hundreds of women have performed in the Stampede Rodeo, and adding to this proud tradition is Mary Burger, a high-speed barrel-racing grandma from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. For over 40 years Mary has been participating in barrel racing events, winning a slew of titles and victories on her way to being ranked number one in the world in barrel racing. At 67 years young, Mary dropped jaws and wowed fans as she achieved a clean sweep in the barrel racing competition at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Placing first in the competition for a remarkable four consecutive days, Mary would go on to win the event on Championship Sunday adding another trophy to what one can only imagine is an already cluttered mantle.

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Mary Burger and her horse Mo picking up some speed!

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Greatest of the Great in Las Vegas

This year’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) will go down in the history books as the greatest all time showing for Canada at the world’s richest rodeo and the Calgary Stampede was right there to be a part of it. It is very fitting that we chose to theme our Calgary Stampede booth at the Las Vegas Convention Centre Cowboy Christmas the “Greatest of the Greats” this year because that is truly what was showcased from start to finish at the NFR this December.

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If you had a chance to get down to the promotional booth, you would have noticed the walls decorated with all the great things Stampede has to offer. On the wall were photos of incredible Stampede competitors like Sage Kimzey, Mary Burger and Zeke Thurston, as well as some of our great Stampede bucking horses. As the week unfolded some of our featured athletes showed the world why they are the greatest of the great. Mary Burger came into the week as the all-time money earning Barrel Racer and left Las Vegas with the distinguished title of oldest-ever competitor at the NFR along with a brand new gold buckle and the crown of World Champion to go along with her other major wins in Houston and the Calgary Stampede.

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey may not have won this year’s Stampede Bull Riding title but he has hoisted that bronze trophy on our stage in the past and also knows how to win World Championships. Sage stayed ahead of his field of tough competitors to claim his third consecutive World Title; the same number of years that he has been a professional bull rider.

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of all-time great champions of the Calgary Stampede was Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. Not only is Zeke the two-time and reigning Calgary Stampede Champion Saddle Bronc rider, he is now the newly crowned World Champion in the event. Zeke is a proud Canadian and second-generation National Finals qualifier who has been carving out his own page in rodeo history with an impressive resume that includes a Rodeo Houston title, two Calgary Stampede titles, a National Finals Rodeo title and  now a World Championship. We are looking forward to seeing all three of these ‘Greats’ back at Stampede in 2017!

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

But the story of Canadian success at the NFR doesn’t stop there. Of the eight Canadians competing at this year’s NFR, five are now qualified for an invitation to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. Airdrie’s Jake Vold, three-time and reigning Canadian Champion Bareback Rider, finished second in the NFR and Reserve World Champion. Jake Watson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, finished the NFR in second place and fifth overall in the World Standings. Clay Elliot, 2016 Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, calls Nanton, Alberta, home. He finished ninth overall in Las Vegas, with Orin Larsen the Bareback Rider from Inglis, Manitoba, ending his season sitting third in the World Standings.

Along with the success of our future Stampede competitors, some other great Canadian competitors were breaking records in the Team Roping event. Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler became the first all-Canadian team of ropers to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Not only did they qualify but they dominated the field and on day 10 were crowned the 2016 World Champion Team Ropers, which, as you can guess, also went down in the record books. This is an amazing accomplishment for the Alberta cowboys and a proud moment for rodeo in Canada. Kolton Schmidt from Barrhead, Alberta, also competed in this year’s NFR Team Roping but came up short. Kolton and his great horse Badger did however take home the title of Heading Horse of the Year in the PRCA.

That brings us to our final piece of the Canadian contingent at this year’s NFR: the bucking stock. The Stampede was honored this year to have 13 horses and two bulls selected to compete at the National Finals Rodeo. All in all, it was a great showing, with more than $125,000USD won by cowboys on Stampede stock, and over a quarter of a million dollars total on Canadian bucking stock. We are extremely proud to say when the dust settled, it was an NFR rookie with the CS brand that took home the title of Top Bareback Horse of the NFR. X-9 Xplosive Skies is a descendant of the legendary Grated Coconut and is performing true to her lineage. Being recognized as the best bucking horse is no easy feat but this young mare has incredible skills and will be a force in the arena for many years to come.

One last Stampede notable is Pick-Up Man Gary Rempel who made a record-setting ninth appearance at the National Finals this year. Gary is an integral part of the Stampede team, keeping riders and livestock safe in the arena during all of the rodeos that Stampede is involved with. Congratulations to Gary on yet another successful year!

There were too many great success stories at this year’s Nationals Finals Rodeo to name them all but in the end it comes down to a great team that comes together to represent the Calgary Stampede as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

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Some of the most notable Calgary Stampede highlights from 2016

2016 was an eventful year for the Calgary Stampede: our bucking stock started and finished the year winning awards at international rodeos, we welcomed more than one million guests during the wettest Stampede since 1927, and Stampede Park hosted visitors year-round for many different ventures, including the Stampede’s first ever Fall Fair. Here’s a monthly recap highlighting only a few of the many milestones the Stampede saw this year.

January
The Calgary Stampede bucking stock brought in the new year in Denver with some big scores at the National Western Stock Show.
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NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

February
The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm flew to Australia for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corrobree – a major tourism roadshow. Vanessa, along with other members from the Stampede and Travel Alberta, helped inform travel tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer.
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February - IP in AUS

March
The Stampede’s Annual General Meeting was held in March. In addition to sharing the highlights from 2015, president & chairman of the board Bill Gray and chief executive officer Warren Connell gave insight into the Stampede’s future by speaking to the Stampede Park development plans. Connell noted that Youth Campus, the TransAlta Performing Arts Studios and Calgary Arts Academy were all well on their way, in addition to the future plans of expanding the BMO Centre, which would provide an estimated 500 full-time jobs and an added $73 million a year to the economy in Alberta and $87 million to Canada’s GDP.
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Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

April
Aggie Days moved to their new home in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The lunchtime rodeo took place in the new arena and the animals and exhibits were arranged throughout the main level, in the exhibit hall and around the arena.
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The 2016 Cutting Horse Futurity saw tough competition, new technology and western spirit

It was a case of go big or go home.

Cayley, Alberta’s Dustin Gonnet knew he needed a big score in the second round of the Open Final at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, after facing down a tough cow in the first round and having the judges penalize him.

“If I wouldn’t have been nailed with that hot quit, I might not have been near as aggressive as I was,” Gonnet said after the event, giving credit to the horse he was on, RPL Cat N Around, for eventually pulling off a big win in the class. “She is super confident about her job. She’s a show pony.”

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

As a National Cutting Horse Association sanctioned event, this year’s Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity attracted Canadian riders from across the prairies and American riders from as far afield as Texas.  In total, 331 horse-and-rider pairs competed in seven classes for a share of more than $355,000 in prize during the event October 12 to 16 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

In the sport of cutting, each horse and rider is faced with a herd of cattle and just two and a half minutes on the clock. Working together they separate, or ‘cut’, a cow from the herd.  The rider then drops the reins and allows the horse to use its instincts, strength and agility to mirror the movements of the cow and keep it from the herd.  This can be repeated two more times as long as there’s time on the clock.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, and for guests interested in extra insight into each run, ‘Smart Bug’ personal listening devices were offered during the Saturday Night Cut of the West.

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Used for the first time during the cutting at the Calgary Stampede in 2016, the ear buds were again extremely popular with the crowd at the Futurity on Saturday night.  Listeners were able to hear expert commentary and better understand the judging and incredible skills of the horses and riders.

Guests to the Saturday Night Cut of the West were also on hand for a very special award ceremony, as Travis Rempel was recognized as this year’s Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider.

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

The award recognizes the incredible skills and success of the men and women who dedicate their talents and time to the versatility of the western performance horse.  Created in celebration of the three western performance horse events offered at the Calgary Stampede, the Team Cattle Penning competition, the Cutting Horse competition, and the Working Cow Horse Classic, the Western Elite Rider is awarded to the rider who earns the most points by placing in the top ten of at least two events.

A victory in the Open Finals of the Cutting Horse competition propelled Rempel to the top in 2016. Rempel says competing during the Stampede is a unique but incredible experience.

“It’s electric; the people, the music, the announcer and the fact that you’re here during the rodeo.” He says the honour of being named the Stampede’s Western Elite rider is extremely special to him, and it means even more to him to have achieved it surrounded by friends.

“To me the cool thing about this sport is that you can be in competition with someone, but they’re your friends and they want to you do well. It’s fun to be around. It’s the best.”

Full results from the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity are available here.

BMO Farm Family focuses on environment and sustainability

From humble beginnings on a farm in Holland, one BMO Farm Family’s Alberta agriculture involvement has grown substantially over the years. “We moved here in 1954, just one week after our wedding” said Margaret Rommens, who grew up on a farm in Holland. Margaret and her husband Adrian began their Canadian journey by worked for other Albertan farmers, while saving up to one day buy their own land. In 1971, the couple had saved enough to purchase three quarters of land and begin their own operation.

“Irrigation was new to us, but we had to start somewhere and take the opportunity,” Margaret explained. “And good thing we did because we’ve been quite successful.” In less than 30 years, the operation had grown from 30 dairy cattle to 120 – and continued to expand from there, with approximately 200 head today, which are all purebred Holsteins. Along with the number of cattle, the Rommens family grew as well – Margaret and Adrian had six children, and now have several grandchildren, many of whom are in their twenties deciding on career paths (including university graduates with medical doctor and finance degrees).

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Margaret Rommens (fifth from the left) with her family at the 2016 BMO Farm Family Awards

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Heavy horse hitches at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Spending 12 of their 225 travel days per year at the Calgary Stampede, the Express Clydesdale team couldn’t be happier. “We love Calgary! We absolutely love it here,” exclaimed Michael Honhner of the Express Hitch team, from Oklahoma. The Express Clydesdales came to the Stampede this year to participate in the Heavy Horse Show, where they won Best in Show last year, and while they’re here they will also act as the feature hitch during the GMC Rangeland Derby. Their first Stampede award of 2016 came at the Stampede Parade, where the team was awarded Best Heavy Horse 6 and 8 Horse Hitch Commercially owned.

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

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Calgary Stampede’s new bridge wins Award of Merit for innovative design

A new bridge that spans the Elbow River, from main Stampede Park to the Stampede’s new ENMAX Park, was recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) for its thoughtful design that accommodates western lifestyle and flood resistance. The bridge was completed in June 2015, just in time for Stampede, to replace the old “blue bridge” that was lost during the flood of 2013.

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

I spoke with Mark Bowen of Read Jones Chistoffersen Ltd. who accepted the award on behalf of the team and he told me about the planning and construction of the new bridge, and how the design accommodates all of the bridge’s different users.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

Protecting the river while protecting Stampede Park from flooding

Based on its location across the Elbow River’s floodway, the new bridge was to be as flood-proof as possible. “Normal practice in bridge design is to lift the bridge deck above the flood level to minimize obstructions in the river. This project presented unique challenges in the mitigation of flood flows and the design of the deck to withstand the applied loads from flood conditions,” Bowen explained. Continue reading

Riding high in Houston with the Calgary Stampede

Canadian saddle bronc competitor Clay Elliott wasn’t too sure just how to react after his big Rodeo Houston win on one of the Calgary Stampede’s top horses.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Elliott told local media. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with $50,000.”

The Nanton, Alberta cowboy scored the huge paycheck by winning a ride-off in the finals on board Stampede Warrior. It was one of many notable performances by Calgary Stampede horses at the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas. In total, Stampede horses competed 84 times in front of 1.3 million attendees over the course of 21 performances. And they definitely caught the attention of the cowboys and the crowd, as they do year after year.

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

“They captured an incredible 14 go-round wins and more than $110,000 in prize money in Houston,” says Robert Wise, director of Western Events & Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. The highest marked ride of the rodeo was given to Austin Foss, who scored 91 points on the Reserve World Champion, Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery. Continue reading

Make your musical mark: 10 Reasons to Join a Marching Band

Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Looking for info on how to get involved with Calgary’s marching bands? You’re in luck, because several local ensembles are currently recruiting new members for the 2015/16 season:

For those who need some convincing, we’ve compiled our top 10 reasons to join a marching band! If you’re planning to audition for Showband, make sure you check out our awesome audition tips!

1. Amazing Performance Opportunities

Calgary’s marching bands get incredible opportunities to perform on the Saddledome Steps during Stampede week, at marching band competitions, at sporting events, in parades, and special concerts.

The Showband has also performed for Mayor Nenshi, Prime Minister Stephan Harper, and the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge Will and Kate. We’ve given a command performance at Buckingham Palace, been featured on the show, “Live with Kelly Ripa”, and performed on stage with Shania Twain and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. These are all especially unique performance opportunities that would never be possible in a normal concert band setting.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

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2015 Calgary White Hat Awards

Tonight was the 53rd Annual Calgary White Hat Awards and I couldn’t be prouder to see 37 members of the Calgary Stampede family nominated!

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Group photo of nominated Stampede employees– we had more people than red carpet!

Celebrating our city’s western heritage in a stylish white Smithbilt is something that all RANGERS on Stampede Park do well. It’s a common sight in my every day life and yet, seeing a proud Calgarian rock the white hat is something that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

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Family members of employees were invited to the special Stampede red carpet celebration. Whether they win a hat tonight or not, they are all champions who deserve to be celebrated!

The white cowboy hat is an iconic symbol, unique to the city of Calgary. It is gift that shows a visitor our appreciation for coming to our great city– and so it is only fitting that the greatest ambassadors for Calgary, those who work in the hospitality industry and who are front-line champions for our city, should be honoured with a white hat award.

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A Stampede family who plays together, stays together through thick and thin. Congrats to all these RANGERS for getting nominated for the award!

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