In September of 1994, a six-year-old Montana cowboy, Chase Hawks, was killed in a tragic accident. Family and friends gathered to form the Chase Hawks Memorial Association (CHMA) with the goal of helping others facing crisis situations so something positive could come from the loss they felt. The Association has endeared the memory of one little cowboy to the community and provided a hand up to many more. CHMA is simply neighbors helping neighbors in the cowboy tradition.
The Association has become a viable source of help for families needing short-term assistance or help with travel, facilities, and local benefits that are not addressed by larger charities or insurance because of immediacy or circumstances. The Association has been able to effectively pull together volunteer efforts from the community at large and provide media focus and corporate cooperation at an unprecedented level. This is primarily due to the universal appeal of a community crisis fund and the fact that the organization is an all-volunteer effort.
We have put on celebrity roasts, some great trail rides, garage sales, scavenger hunts, rope ‘n strokes, and a few we can’t even remember. We will only do quality events and then do our best to make them “world class”. We have to be proud of it to expend the energy of the twenty to thirty volunteers that make these events happen. Anything less would not serve the Association, our sponsors, our supporters, and our community
The Association’s efforts are anchored by the Annual Rough Stock Rodeo and the Cowboy Gatherin’ Dinner and Dance. These events have brought fans from a three or four hundred-mile radius to Billings for the weekend. This is a welcome influx for the motel and service businesses at a traditionally slow time. The visitors are also in town during the last few days of shopping before Christmas. The rodeo was considered one of the premier rough stock events in the country the first year and has aired on national or regional television as a one-hour special since its second.
The Association has an annual Trap Shoot that brings long-time shooters, kids, and new shooters together for a great day. We started the Race for Chase 5/10K run in the spring of 2011 at Zoo Montana that includes a “mini” marathon.
We introduced Pasture Golf at the Branding Iron Saloon, north of Billings in 2010. With the help of the Town Pump Charitable Foundation, the event funded $18,000 of relief to wildfire victims in 2012. This event moved to the Billings Saddle Club grounds in 2013.
The Association also provides the annual “Burn The Point” parade and car show during the Labor Day weekend. It is the only classic car event on that weekend and sandwiched between two very large shows. It is an opportunity to bring a lot of cars, travelers and appetites to Billings during another traditionally slow weekend. The event offers a good balance with the winter rodeo activity and a chance to develop a different demographic group of participants and sponsors. The involvement of local car enthusiasts is tremendous.
The Association has provided travel expenses and lodging for family tragedies as well as transplant donors and recipients. Help with peripheral expenses for medical problems, therapy and family travel and expenses due to illness and death have been provided by the fund. Construction of wheelchair ramps and collection of clothes and household items for fire victims have also been accomplished. Co-promotion and media attention have allowed the Association to secure a car, airline and bus tickets, and matching funds from area department stores for families in need. Emergency surgery, funeral expenses, rent, rehabilitation, and retrofit expenses, as well as toys and Christmas money have been provided. Recipients and their friends and families have become volunteers. This is an organization that makes people feel good about their communities and themselves.
The Association is a recognized cause by United Way and the Non-Profit base for “Kids and Cowboys”, a grassroots support group, started by Tim Crowley to help families dealing with cancer affecting a child in our region.
Our “Calves 4 Cancer” program has engaged the ranching community in a program that directly funds families facing that frightening diagnosis throughout the region by committing a calf in the spring that delivers a huge contribution to help families close to all of us in the fall. This is the quintessential example of “neighbors helping neighbors” that defines this organization.
It is worth noting that one in three requests come from other viable charities that recognize the value of the request, but are unable to fund it because of fiscal, geographic, or time constraints imposed by their own criteria or regulations. The ability to compliment larger, more established, and need-specific organizations has made us a valuable partner in the Community.