Bucking bulls and wild broncos are not for the faint of heart, but the true fighter behind the Bulls and Barrels Charity Rodeo last weekend was Cheryl Rogers.
A crowd of over 600 kicked up the dust at Bassett Park to show their support for the respected local jockey and trainer diagnosed with cancer six months ago.
“Everyone was so supportive… it was just amazing that a small community could do that,” says Cheryl’s husband Stuart who was there amongst the action.
The brains behind the event was Roma truck driver and long-time friend, Mark Patterson.
He says Cheryl is the sort of person who always puts others first.
“I know in my own heart that if I was in her shoes or you were in her shoes, she would do the same thing, even if you were a complete stranger,” he describes.
Cheryl has had battled with health problems her whole life.
She has suffered renal failure since she was 18 but it wasn’t until a routine check up six months ago that Cheryl found out she had bowel cancer as well.
“The treatment that she received from the cancer destroyed the rest of her kidney,” says Mr Patterson.
With only one-quarter of her kidney functioning properly, Cheryl needs an organ transplant but now must wait five more years before the donation can be viable.
“It’s law worldwide that once you have any form of cancer you cannot have an organ transplant for five years… so basically this dialysis has to keep her alive,” Mr Patterson says.
Cheryl has been on dialysis treatment at Toowoomba Base Hospital since October last year, and coming back home to Roma would require transforming her house with the appropriate equipment.
“They’re looking at putting a dialysis machine in the house so she can do her own dialysis because they don’t have anything like that out here, no trained people or the facilities,” says Mr Rogers.
Cheryl’s family is hoping to have her home by April, but the cost of getting her back will be significant.
“It’s going to cost a ridiculous amount of money to bring Cheryl home because they’ve got to pretty much transform their whole house with machines and water testing… it’s got to be completely hygienic,” Mr Patterson says.
That’s where the help of the community comes in.
Calculations are still being finalised to determine the funds raised on the weekend, but the bar takings alone were over $9,000.
Mr Patterson says all the proceeds will go towards helping Cheryl get back home.
With over 100 competitors, the rodeo was the first Bulls and Barrels event to be held in the South West in a number of years and the turn out didn’t disappoint.
Cheryl was unable to make it to the event, but sent a public message of thanks to the entire crowd for their support.
“She’s just such a positive person, she’s got the fight in her you know. That’s the best thing about her.”
Cheryl turns 42 this Sunday and husband Stuart plans to visit her in Toowoomba to take her out to dinner.
But despite the distance, she knows she has a whole community behind her back in Roma.
“She was shocked and couldn’t understand it… Cheryl’s always the sort of person that does everything for everybody else and doesn’t expect anything in return.”
Mark Patterson’s fundraising mission doesn’t stop there.
He has also organised a charity bike ride from Roma to Augathella on March 5, followed by a karaoke night.
“There’s so many people that she’s looked after and I just thought that it was only fair that I got a few mates together and we put this event on and try and raise some money.”