Central Alberta rodeo community rallies together to raise funds for COPD research


A group of local barrel racers have helped raise $6,500 for lung health research to remember a passionate rodeo volunteer who gave so much to the sport.

Lyle Norn, a volunteer at Ponoka Stampede grounds, died in February from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the age of 67.

Lyle Norn

Lyle Norn

In order to remember the well-like volunteer, his granddaughter and a few of her friends and family started a barrel racing series to raise funds for The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

The group held the first ever Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Race Series race on May 14 and held the event every Wednesday at in Ponoka for six straight weeks.

Money raised through door prizes and concession sales during each race will help pay for vital research programs that could help find a cure or a new treatment for lung diseases like COPD — an illness that has killed more Canadian women than breast cancer since 2009.

“During our races, he was always there to help — he was always our tractor guy (during every barrel race). He would drop anything to come and help you,” said Norn’s granddaughter, Kaylee Jo Henkelman, a barrel racer in Ponoka.

“He was such a family man and he supported young kids who were all involved in the rodeo.”

Shayna Dodds, another organizer for the event, says barrel racers in the community wanted to also raise awareness about COPD.

“So many people here came together to honour a man so lived and recognized both in the rodeo community and here in his hometown,” said Dodds.

Henkleman says the local barrel racing community will make the Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Racing Series an annual tradition every spring.

“We are so thankful for the local barrel racing community to raise these funds that will be used to help advance research into lung disease because we are all powered by breathing,” said Kathleen Badry, TLA’s development coordinator.

“This is such a great tribute to a beloved grandfather who gave so much to central Alberta’s rodeo community.”

Looking for ways to raise money for important lung health research programs or support programs offered by TLA? Click here to learn more about how you can hold your own fundraiser in your community?

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